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Global Organic Textile Standard Slams ‘Misleading’ Ad Muddying Organic Claims

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organization said Wednesday it wanted to “set the record straight” on a recent misleading claim by a company stating it holds a certification that’s “More important than organic.”

GOTS did not want to name the company, but Sourcing Journal obtained a copy of the advertisement from six-year-old direct-to-consumer home textiles label Parachute, whose ad also claims “Textiles with the organic label can still be treated with toxic chemicals at a later stage of production.”

“While this is possible for uncertified products made from organic fibers, this is a misleading statement for textiles certified and labelled to the Global Organic Textile Standard,” GOTS said. “GOTS protects workers and environment at every stage of production and the GOTS approved ‘Positive List’ was developed to assure GOTS certified wet-processors only use chemical inputs with the lowest possible toxicity effects available.”

GOTS noted that all of its certified products begin on an organic farm. For any agricultural product to be sold as “organic” in the United States, no matter where in the world the crop is grown, the raw fiber must have been certified to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program’s (NOP) Crop Standard. This includes fibers such as cotton, flax and hemp.

Sheep’s wool and other animal fibers must have been raised to the USDA’s NOP livestock standard. Organic production systems maintain soil fertility and expand biological diversity through crop rotation, said GOTS. They also prohibit the use of synthetic toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, as well as genetically engineered seed. Third-party certifiers verify that organic producers meet strict federal regulations addressing methods and materials allowed in organic production.

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The organization noted that some textile standards are not related to organic or natural products and include petroleum-based synthetic fibers. Those products never decompose and are the cause of pollutive plastic fiber particles sloughing off into the waste stream and sullying global waterways.

“A textile product carrying the GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95 percent certified organic fibers, a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’ must contain a minimum of 70 percent certified organic fibers,” the statement said. “GOTS is backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.”

GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entirety of post-harvest fiber processing, including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fiber such as organic cotton and organic wool, and includes both environmental and social criteria.

Parachute, for its part, stressed the “safety” aspect of its close-to-skin products.

“We use bedding every night and it comes into direct contact with our bodies, so it’s extremely important to look for options that are safe for our skin,” Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute, said in a response to an inquiry.

“While respected organizations such as Oeko-Tex and the Global Organic Textile Standard offer certifications for quality materials that consumers can trust, many companies who do not use these certified materials manipulate the term ‘organic’ when describing their products,” Kaye continued. “Fibers grown organically but processed with toxic chemicals may still carry the organic label. ‘Wrinkle free’ or ‘permanent press’ labels should be avoided because manufacturers treat these fabrics with formaldehyde resin, a toxic chemical.

“This is why all of Parachute’s bedding and bath essentials are Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they are safely made without any harmful  chemicals or synthetics,” Kaye added.