How do I get the APEDA certificate

20,000 tons of counterfeit organic cotton

The organic cotton community was recently the target of systematic fraud. Thanks to the reliable quality assurance systems, the counterfeiting of 20,000 tons of organic cotton in India was discovered promptly. Numerous measures have been taken to tackle this scandal. Among other things, eleven responsible companies were excluded from the GOTS and Textile Exchange System and two certifiers involved were suspended or their accreditation withdrawn. As a consequence of this, the quality assurance system is now being tightened further.

GOTS finds evidence of organic cotton fraud in India

Source: GOTS, press release from 10/30/2020

During its own investigations, GOTS discovered forged documents confirming rumors of systematic fraud. As part of a surveillance audit, a regular part of GOTS quality assurance, carried out by the GOTS accreditation body IOAS in which GOTS experts took part, fake raw cotton transaction certificates (TCs) were found. The fraudsters misused certificate templates from the responsible government agency in India, APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority). They provided the templates with forged QR codes that led to a cloned APEDA website in order to pass it off as "authentic". According to GOTS knowledge, these fake TCs comprise approx. 20,000 tons of cotton.

GOTS only accepts organic cotton certified according to a standard of the IFOAM standard family. In India, the relevant TCs with comprehensive information (volume, transport data, buyer, seller, etc.) are issued by APEDA recognized certification bodies.

GOTS has instructed its approved independent certification bodies to cancel all TCs issued on the basis of incorrectly issued TCs in order to prevent affected goods from being sold with GOTS labels. 11 companies were excluded from the GOTS system and the contract with a certifier was terminated. GOTS presented all the facts to APEDA and urged them to investigate, prosecute and take additional quality assurance measures. All GOTS-certified companies were informed of the incident and applicable measures.

As a pure processing standard, GOTS has so far relied on the laws and supervision of organic farming by the respective states. To protect against such fraud, additional measures are now being introduced: In future, all TCs (for ecological raw materials) entering the GOTS supply chain will be checked by GOTS itself for authenticity and credibility. A system for permanent data acquisition for raw material that enters the GOTS supply chain as well as for control and verification of the certification bodies is currently being developed.

GOTS is firmly convinced that these steps are strict, but inevitable and, in the long term, lead to strengthening the credibility of biofiber production and the Global Organic Textile Standard itself.

Details that we at it fits have questioned

An overview of the companies that are excluded from GOTS certification can be found under this link, including the eleven of the most recent incident.

Textile Exchange has also excluded these 11 companies from certification for 2 years. Here is the full list of companies whose TE certification has been banned.

In this context, the accreditation for GOTS and all TE standards has also been definitively withdrawn from the certification body LETIS. In the past, inconsistencies and errors in the certification were uncovered several times, indicating that the suspension had already taken place earlier. LETIS has now been deleted from the list of approved certifiers on both websites.

Another black sheep in this fraud story is the ICEA certification body from Italy. IECA has been temporarily suspended for both GOTS and TE standards certifications and currently has no certification approval. This is noted accordingly on the Textile Exchange website.

The positive sign of this story, however, is that the independent protection model with a multi-party system, in which accreditation organizations are also involved, has worked reliably. Withdrawn transaction certificates may not be used as input for GOTS or OCS products, which prevents further certification of the products by another transaction certificate. Of course, blocked companies cannot be certified at all.

Statement from Textile Exchange’s Organic Cotton Round Table Steering Committee on the detection of fraud in organic cotton

Source: Textile Exchange

The organic cotton community has recently been the target of a sophisticated fraud. Thanks to the robust assurance systems in place, this fraud was quickly detected and affirmative action has been taken to address it, with the perpetrators expelled from the industry and fraud detection systems tightened still further. The full press release from GOTS can be found here.

Responsible, proactive action like this is essential for improving integrity in the sector, and we are committed to working collectively to ensure that the systems in place are robust and continually evolving to pre-empt future criminal activities.

Strong demand for organic cotton is driven by the recognition of the multiple benefits that organic production brings to people and planet. It can play a pivotal role in addressing the climate crisis, regenerating soils, protecting biodiversity, and supporting sustainable livelihoods, as well as addressing numerous UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At this crucial time for our planet, we need to take urgent action to avert the climate crisis. It is more important than ever that the integrity of production systems which contribute to a better future are safeguarded. We welcome the response from the sector to address the criminal activity which sought to exploit organic’s reputation.

The organic cotton sector remains committed to facilitating strong, resilient and authentic supply chains that deliver meaningful benefits for farming communities and the rest of the living world.

If you have questions, please submit them to [email protected]