What is Organic Cotton? Organic Certification Requirement is Described Simply

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What is Organic Cotton?

Organic cotton refers to cotton grown without synthetic agricultural chemicals, such as fertilizers or pesticides, from non-genetically modified plants. Additionally, its production promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles. To be considered organic in the United States, cotton plantations must also meet the National Organic Program (NOP) requirements administered by the USDA. This institution determines what practices are permitted for organic farming, pest control, fertilizing, and crop handling. Globally, more than 50% of organic cotton is produced in 24 countries and 265, 517 bales were made in 2007 alone.

Figure 01: Cotton Fiber

Organic Certification Requirements:

Producing and selling organic products is required by law by compliance with the Organic Food Production Act of 1990, enacted by the state organic program (SOP). It specifies the procedures and regulations for producing and handling organic crops.

Organic Resources & Affiliations:

The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS):

Organic Cotton Textiles are produced according to the GOTS standard. Organic Cotton Plus regards GOTS as a defining event in the history of organic cotton. GOTS-certified fabrics undergo an inspection at every stage, right up to the warehouse in South Carolina, where each step is certified. Organic Cotton Plus has achieved this certification as the only online fabric retailer.

The International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standards is comprised of four reputed member organizations, namely OTA (USA), IVN (Germany), Soil Association (UK), and JOCA (Japan), which contribute to the GOTS, along with other international stakeholder organizations and experts, each with their own expertise in organic farming and textile processing that is environmentally and socially responsible. “their vision is to make organic textiles a significant part of everyday life, improving the lives of people and the environment.

GOTS aims to develop, implement, verify, protect, and promote the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This standard stipulates ecological and labor conditions throughout the supply chain for textile and apparel manufacturing using organically produced raw materials. Unlike conventional farming, organic farming uses no toxic, persistent pesticides or fertilizers to maintain and replenish soil fertility. Moreover, organic production is based on animal husbandry and excludes genetic modification.”

Figure 02: Logo of GOTS

Organic Trade Association:

Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. Its mission is to promote and protect organic trade from benefiting farmers, the public, and the economy. OTA envisions organic products becoming part of everyday life, enhancing the health and well-being of people and the environment. The Organic Trade Association represents businesses across the organic supply chain, including food, fiber/textiles, personal care products, and new sectors as they emerge. Sixty percent of the members of OTA are small businesses.

Figure 03: Logo of Organic Trade Association

Green America:

The organization’s mission is to harness the power of economic power- consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace- to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.”

Figure 04: Logo of Green America

Green Business Certification is awarded to businesses that are:

  1. Utilizing their business as a tool for positive social change;
  2. Socially and environmentally sustainable business practices; Operating a “values-driven” enterprise;
  3. Responsible in the way they source, manufacture, market, and run their operations;
  4. Being socially responsible and committed to making a positive impact on the environment, customers, workers, and communities;
  5. Achieving radical transparency in all aspects of their business and continually improving their work.

Production of Organic Cotton:

Several countries successfully grow organic cotton, with Turkey, India, and China being the most prominent producers (as of 2007). There are at least eight countries in Africa where organic cotton is produced. The earliest producer was the SEKEM organization in Egypt; the farmers involved later convinced the Egyptian government to convert 4,00,000 hectares of conventional cotton production to integrated methods, resulting in 90% less synthetic pesticides and a 30% higher yield in Egypt.

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