Stuttgart, Germany – The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) organization pushed back on assertions from a European NGO regarding certifications for Xinjiang cotton.
Although the U.S. banned imports of products made with Xinjiang cotton nearly a year ago, a recent report from Sheffield Hallam University described ways the cotton could come into the U.S. after being “laundered” through the supply chain.
In a white paper, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) called on GOTS to cease audits and certifications of suppliers in Xinjiang, China, which is known to use the Uyghur population for forced labor.
In response, GOTS noted that there are no longer any GOTS-accredited certifying bodies operating in Xinjiang. As of January 16, 2022, there will be no GOTS certified companies in the region either, it said. Of the three companies that had been operating with certifications, one certification expired on Dec. 3 and the other two will expire on Jan. 9 and Jan. 15.
“GOTS does not allow raw fibers that originate from producer projects that have irrefutable gross violations of ILO core labor standards. Thus, GOTS expects the third-party certification bodies to consider the origin of the organic fiber during certification and requires them to reject raw material entering the GOTS supply chain in these cases,” the organization stated.
Laura Murphy, who authored the Sheffield study, told the Washington Post that Xinjiang cotton is still shipped to Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, which export finished goods to the U.S.
GOTS said it is currently developing a centralized database that will address the origin of raw material and also cover GOTS’ full chain of custody, from first processing steps to end products.