GOTS Statement on the article in the New York Times from February 13, 2022
Clarification: GOTS is not a farm standard and therefore does not certify cotton. Instead, GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre and includes both environmental and social criteria.
The following 7 points are very important:
- GOTS is not funded by brands. GOTS is an independent non-profit organisation. GOTS finances itself through annual fees of 150€ per certified facility. Each of the approximately 12,000 certified facilities worldwide, regardless of size, pays the same amount of 150€ per year.
- Consumers can be confident that the cotton in a GOTS-certified product is organic. GOTS only allows fibres to enter the supply chain that are certified according to the standards of the IFOAM family and that have gone through mandatory checks.
- To prevent possible fraud on farm level, GOTS goes a step further and requires that seed cotton entering the GOTS supply chain is tested for the presence of genetically modified organisms according to the applicable ISO protocol. Additionally, GOTS-approved Certification Bodies include further testing (such as pesticide residue) according to their risk assessment and are fully authorised to re-ject material that does not meet GOTS requirements.
- Before certification bodies issue a Transaction Certificate (TC), GOTS requires that a thorough assessment takes place. Among other things, it is mandatory to perform a plausibility check in the form of volume reconciliation. To strengthen integrity and traceability, GOTS also requires that the Farm Transaction Certificate number appears on the first GOTS TC at the ginning plant.
- For the continuous monitoring of the GOTS certification bodies, GOTS has developed a separate accreditation system based on International Standards Organisation (ISO) ISO/IEC Guides 17011 and 17065.
The fact that ONECERT’s GOTS accreditation was withdrawn is proof that this control system works.
- Regarding the alleged quote made by Ms. Pepper: GOTS has not received any evidence of fraud, whether from Textile Exchange or other partners, since uncovering fraud in India in 2020 through its own research. GOTS imposed a certification ban on 11 companies (affecting 20,000 tons of cotton, one sixth of India's total production) and terminated the contract with an approved certification body. We have repeatedly banned dubious companies from the GOTS system and published this information (see the publicly available list of banned companies here). We are eager to see such evidence, as GOTS consistently acts against such proof and imposes strict sanctions such as certification bans.
- To further strengthen the GOTS system, GOTS is currently developing a central database that will track the origin of not only organic cotton but also other organic materials. It will cover the entire GOTS chain of custody, from the first processing steps to the final products. To remain independent of economic interests, we have applied for public funding for the development of the database. Although this slows the development, our independence is worth it.