H&M, Other Brands Guilty of “Organic Cotton Fraud”?

Cotton field, H&M, C&A, organic cotton, organic cotton fraud, Apeda, India, eco-fashion news

Photo by span112

Man, it is so not shaping up to be H&M’s year when it comes to doing the green thing. The Swedish fast-fashion purveyor and other leading European retailers and brands, including C&A and Tchibo, have been hawking certified-organic cotton clothing contaminated with genetically modified cotton from India, according to the German edition of the Financial Times, which is crying fraud—well, alleged fraud—because GMOs are verboten in organic standards.

Clothing store, H&M, C&A, organic cotton, organic cotton fraud, Apeda, India, eco-fashion news

Photo by qf8

FRAUD ON A “GIGANTIC SCALE”

Roughly 30 percent of the tested samples contained genetically modified cotton, says Lothar Kruse, a director of Impetus, an independent lab in Bremerhaven, which examined the cotton fabrics in question. The contaminated cotton was traced back to India, which is responsible for more than half of the global supply of organic cotton, with an output of nearly 107,000 tons of fiber in 2009 alone, according to the Organic Exchange.

India supplies more than half of the global supply of organic cotton.

But Sanjay Dave, the head of the Indian agricultural authority, Apeda, told the newspaper that fraud was occurring on a “gigantic scale,” and fines were issued to third-party certification agencies such as EcoCert and Control Union as recently as April 2009.

Organic cotton H&M

Photo by Andreas Tellefsen

WHO’S TO BLAME?

With the pervasiveness of biotech crops around the world, cross-pollination with their organic counterparts is not unheard of. The fault, however, could lie with with the offending brands and their inadequate monitoring of their overseas supply chains. “The fashion chains were not vigilant enough,” Monika Buening of the Federal Consumer Affairs Agency, told the Frankfurter Rundschau, adding that both H&M and C&A need to act tout de suite to minimize the damage.

H&M conceded that GM cotton could have slipped into its organic lines.

A spokeswoman from H&M told AFP that it became aware of the problem last year and conceded that GM cotton could have slipped into the label’s organic collections. C&A, meanwhile, is said to be investigating the issue.

H&M

Photo by tnarik

PR FALLOUT

In an email to Ecouterre, however, a representative from H&M insists that the company has no reason to believe that the organic cotton used in its garments was grown with GM seeds, despite APEDA’s criticism of Control Union’s lax oversight.

H&M says it has no reason to believe the organic cotton used in its garments were grown with GM seeds.

The spokeswoman notes that as a result of APEDA’s statements, Control Union began conducting unannounced audits of all the organic cotton farms it certifies in India. “None of the farms were found to use GM seeds,” she says, “and all farms took the appropriate steps to ensure that GM seeds were not used.”

So is FT fraudulently accusing H&M et. al. of fraud? The plot, as they say, thickens.

+ Ecotextile News

+ H&M’s response

+ Organic Exchange’s response (PDF)

+ Control Union’s response (PDF)

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20 Responses to “H&M, Other Brands Guilty of “Organic Cotton Fraud”?”

  1. [...] er blevet sporet tilbage til Indien, hvor over halvdelen af verdens bomuld bliver dyrket. Her forklarer chefen for den indiske landbrugsmyndighed, at der hvert år sker lignende fejl i “stor skala”, og påpeger dermed, at det ikke [...]

  2. [...] World Wide Web – When popular retailer H&M made the news early of this month for destroying and discarding unworn clothing on the streets instead of donating them to charities, it shed a bad light on the company. Ironically, that same week H&M announced it was launching an organic line made from recycled materials. The line, called Garden Collection, was H&M’s saving grace except now it’s turning out to add more bad press for the company; the cotton in the organic line, which H&M labeled “certified organic,” might not be so organic after all. After independent testing, the German Financial Times discovered that close to 30% of the cotton was contaminated with genetically modified cotton from India — the nation that is responsible for more than half of the global supply of organic cotton. Authorities in India said the fraud is happening on a “gigantic scale” with fines already issued to organic-certification agencies in April 2009. But the brands who buy the cotton are also at fault. Monika Buening of the Federal ConSumer Affairs Agency spoke to Frankfurter Rundschau and said, “The fashion chains were not vigilant enough.” She added that companies like H&M need to act out so to minimize the damage. An H&M spokeswoman said that the company was aware of the issue since last year and that the genetically modified cotton could have slipped into the label’s Garden Collection. H&M needs a new PR team, yes or no? [The Cut, Ecouterre/Andreas Tellefsen] [...]

  3. [...] nie są. Dyskusja trwa, wypowiedzi wszystkich zaangażowanych stron można publikuje m.in. Ecouterre, polecam [...]

  4. [...] qui sont passés outre la supercherie, se sont vu infliger une amende par les autorités. Et les associations de consommateurs blâment la marque qui aurait dû être plus vigilante dans la surveillance des chaînes [...]

  5. ricardo.calmet says:

    This is what happens to countries that allow the entry of GM seeds, sooner or later all their crops are contaminated with transgenic genetic material. Moreover where regulations are scarce and their flexible application. In Peru happily not been allowed official entry of GM seeds. In practice Nonsanto sabotage organic cotton …

  6. Rainbow Yoga says:

    I also feel this is what happens as soon as a country allows genetically modified plants in; they contaminate all crops nearby sooner or later; perhaps this was the plan all along.

  7. [...] ENCRENCA VERDE NA H&M A loja sueca H&M está enfrentando um escândalo feio. A companhia, que tem uma linha de roupas 100% orgânicas, foi acusada por vários blogs ecológicos de não usar materiais naturais. Em resposta, a H&M confirmou as alegações dizendo que, de fato, algumas das peças da linha contém fibras de algodão geneticamente modificadas. Para o movimento verde, isso significa procurar novas lojas. Já para H&M é um desastre de relações públicas. [Ecouterre] [...]

  8. Beanstockd says:

    [...] German edition of Financial Times is reporting that H&M, among other companies, is guilty of organic cotton fraud! That is, even though they claim certain pieces of their clothing are made from 100% organic [...]

  9. [...] Jasmin Malik Chua reports for Ecouterre  informs F.A. that genetically modified cotton has been used in “organic” items sold at H&M. [...]

  10. [...] been a rough month for H&M – first trashgate, then cottongate, and now the chain is among a group of the nation’s top retailers involved in a settlement to [...]

  11. [...] Okay, I am a little crushed. This and this are making me rethink my excitement :( [...]

  12. [...] Buying Clothes By Keana The Great American Apparel Diet, fashion Add comments With all the scandals tainting clothing retailers recently, could simply not shopping for clothes solve all our woes? Making an appearance on BBC News this [...]

  13. [...] having bought into a few fashion trends while living in mall obsessed SoCal. “With all the scandals tainting clothing retailers recently, could simply not shopping for clothes solve all our woes? Making an appearance on BBC News this [...]

  14. [...] may be under surveillance, but it looks like where they get their “organic cotton” is not.  Jasmin Malik Chua reports for Ecouterre informs F.A. that genetically modified cotton has been used in “organic” items sold at [...]

  15. [...] C&A need to act tout de suite to minimize the damage.” (Thank you to Ecosaveology & Ecouterre for the full [...]

  16. [...] But I can’t help but cringe at shit like this. Sure, buying organic clothing may be better, but do people really need another excuse to buy clothing and accessories they don’t need? I especially love how all of it is “under $50.” An organic dress at $17.99? It screams “sweatshop labor” to me. Assuage your conscience so long as you don’t think about the people who likely grew that cotton and made that shirt and the conditions they very well may live in. And even organic cotton requires ridiculous amounts of water and fertilizer to grow. Greener, maybe; green, no. Not that it’s all truly organic, anyhow. [...]

  17. [...] Ecoterre.com reports: Roughly 30 percent of the tested samples contained genetically modified cotton, says Lothar Kruse, [...]

  18. symnsemewaf (@symnsemewaf) says:

    ma sjekke:)

  19. Hotshot3000 says:

    “Green” fashion « The Tiny Ouroboros says: “And even organic cotton requires ridiculous amounts of water and fertilizer to grow. Greener, maybe; green, no.”

    And what do you propose to replace it with, wool? Not exactly good for warmer climates. Most cotton in India is dryland, and despite popular misconceptions, cotton is a very drought tolerant crop.

  20. SmartSassy says:

    Honestly, this is ridiculous. Growing seed is NOT how this cotton has GMO. Drift is the problem and its sad because its drifting now into us. After shutting down the Potato research in Europe, its been confirmed that drift is now in the guts of all people. These liars are horrible, they are impacting a whole world so they own all IP on life. I find their whole vision reprehensible. We need to be educated. There is no longer protections against Drift so it doesn’t matter if there is Organic Seed.

    The dirty secret that Monsanto also knew – this is their evil – is that Drift was a Marketing technique, to unleash their product and have no Way for People to resist.

    So, please, we need honesty about this and why GMO’s have to be changed. With putting difference species together, they took things way too far.

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