A case of fake organic cotton has come into light following an investigation by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The quantity of such cotton is around 20,000 metric tonnes.
It is being considered a ‘systematic fraud’ and abuse of Indian Government’s certification system of organic cotton production.
Surveillance audits by were carried out by GOTS accreditation body IOAS, part of GOTS’ quality assurance.
GOTS has submitted all facts to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) urging investigation, criminal prosecution and improvement.
A certification ban on 11 companies has been imposed.
The fraud included fake Raw Cotton Transaction Certificates (TCs) which had been created using APEDA templates with fake QR codes leading to a cloned APEDA website to pretend the TCs were authentic.
GOTS has now instructed its approved certifying bodies to cancel all upstream TCs issued based on wrongly issued TCs to prevent affected goods being sold with GOTS labels.
GOTS accepts raw organic cotton if it is certified to any of the IFOAM Family of Standards. In India, the nodal agency to certify organic raw cotton for export is APEDA. Their system is similar to that of GOTS’, wherein TCs are issued by their Certification Bodies (CBs) and carry information about certified produce (volume, transport details, buyer, seller, etc.).
“Being a processing standard and thus having so far relied on national law-based and governmentally supervised organic cotton production, GOTS, in addition, introduced own measures to secure against such fraud: Henceforth, all incoming TCs (for organic raw material) into the GOTS supply chain will be checked by GOTS itself for authenticity and credibility. A system for permanent data collection for raw materials entering the GOTS supply chain and checks and reviews of CBs is being developed,” GOTS said.