Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

USDA Endorses The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

May 20, 2011:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new policy memorandum today with regard to 'labeling of textiles that contain organic ingredients' in which it explicitly confirms that textile products that are produced in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) may be sold as organic in the U.S.

Because the memo clarifies that the NOP regulations do not include specific processing or manufacturing standards for textile products but that only textile products produced in full compliance with the NOP regulations may be labelled as NOP certified organic and display the USDA organic seal it becomes clear that NOP labeling is hardly achievable for an industrially produced textile product.

However the memo offers a practical and reliable alternative for labeling as it allows the use of the term 'organic' in the labeling of textile products that are certified under third-party certification bodies if some further comprehensible conditions are met. It also confirms to a basic principle of GOTS that the use of a combination of both organic and non-organic sources for a single fiber that is identified as 'organic' in the final product is prohibited in textiles labelled as organic.

Finally by pointing out that "Textile products that are produced in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) may be sold as organic in the U.S. ..."  the document explicitly confirms that GOTS certification is the recognized tool that meets all requirements of this policy to label a textile product as 'organic' in the U.S. The full policy memo has been incorporated into the NOP Program Handbook.   

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