Why Is H&M Selling Fake Organic Cotton?

cotton

H&M got in trouble late last year for destroying unused clothing instead of giving it away to charity; now the clothing giant is under fire again for selling certified organic cotton clothing that isn't actually organic. The Swedish company isn't the only retailer being accused of fraud—European companies C&A and Tchibo are also being accused of selling organic cotton tainted with GMO cotton from India. The most troubling part: none of the companies involved knew that the organic cotton wasn't pure.

According to independent testing laboratory Impetus in Bremerhaven, 30% of tested organic cotton from the stores in question contained genetically modified material. The fraud is probably bigger than just these three brands—all of the tested cotton came from India, which produced 61% of all organic cotton last year.

It's hard to say what should be done to prevent organic cotton fraud from continuing. Ecotextile News writes:

There has been a strong suggestion in the sustainable textile industry that all has not been well in certain sections of the Indian organic cotton sector for some time. Reports from reliable, trusted organisations and producer groups about fraud within the Indian sector of the organic cotton industry have been common-place. The industry now needs to establish firmer rules of governance over organic cotton production, while brands need to invest more in improved supply chain transparency and more thorough testing.

Fair enough, but supply chain transparency and testing doesn't come cheap—without serious pushback from customers, what incentive do chains like H&M have to prevent GMO cotton from slipping into their clothing?

[Via Ecouterre]

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3 Comments

  • mark wallace

    you would think for a company of H&M's size the auditors would be able to check the organicness or their organic range. Lets face it, if they are marketing something as eco-frindly or environmentally friendly then they had better be able to back it up. Most of us into the eco-friendly side of life are not stupid.

    I think with this sort of attitude, I will not buy from H&M ever again. its my simple choice and my power as a shopper.

    Mark
    http://www.nosymbolrequired.co...

  • Jean-Luc Marcoux

    The problem with this “H&M Organic Cotton” scandal spans beyond a mere labeling issue. The fact that H&M was not aware of misrepresentations by organic cotton suppliers does not lessen the negative impact on consumer perceptions of green and eco products. Consumers are already cautious about buying products with green creeds given the greenwashing and “pseudo-eco-friendly” claims in the marketplace.

    You will see a decrease in organic cotton products in the marketplace as other retailers (GAP, Walmart, Target) will cancel their spring “Eco Collections” until they can ascertain suppliers’ environmental claims about their products. We will never know how many organic cotton products were never put on shelves following this debacle. You will most likely see a drop in organic cotton production as a consequence of lower demand from large retailers. This is what happens when you lie to your customer.

    J.L. MarcouxThe problem with this “H&M Organic Cotton” scandal spans beyond a mere labeling issue. The fact that H&M was not aware of misrepresentations by organic cotton suppliers does not lessen the negative impact on consumer perceptions of green and eco products. Consumers are already cautious about buying products with green creeds given the greenwashing and “pseudo-eco-friendly” claims in the marketplace.

    You will see a decrease in organic cotton products in the marketplace as other retailers (GAP, Walmart, Target) will cancel their spring “Eco Collections” until they can ascertain suppliers’ environmental claims about their products. We will never know how many organic cotton products were never put on shelves following this debacle. You will most likely see a drop in organic cotton production as a consequence of lower demand from large retailers. This is what happens when you lie to your customer.

    J.L. Marcoux
    - Everquest Design advises Cirque du Soleil and other large clients in eco marketing.

    - JL advises Cirque du Soleil and other large clients in eco marketing.

  • Beth Charette

    One of the big problems when speaking of farming is, no matter where in the world one farms, pollen from everywhere is in the air. I have seen farmers being accused of, for example, selling DNA altered corn when, in fact, there was no synthetic or altered corn on the farm.

    However, just down the road there were field upon field of the stuff.

    I don't know what the answer is, but to call folks frauds due to things that their neighbors do is a bit much.

    There are even law suits, based on patent that are being filed against a poor farmer who had seed from another farm fall against a fence post and take root. The inspectors came over uninvited, check for stay plants. Found some. Sued, and owned the farm.

    --
    Beth Charette

    ToysPeriod is a leading online shop specializing in lego sets and model railroad equipment.