Organic cotton fraud in India has once again reared its head after an investigation by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) identified 20,000 metric tonnes of cotton that was wrongly certified as organic.

The systematic fraud discovered by GOTS, included the use of bogus raw cotton transaction certificates, false QR codes, and a fictitious, cloned Indian government website that authenticates the ‘organic’ cotton fibre.

GOTS has since instructed its approved bodies to cancel all upstream transaction certificates based on these wrongly issued documents in order to prevent affected goods being sold with the GOTS label.

OTS has submitted all facts to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) urging investigation, criminal prosecution, and improvement and a certification ban on 11 companies have 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 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.


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