The European Commission, which is in the final stages of a review of the current EU organic legislation, has decided that the legal basis of its organic regulation should not be extended to cover textiles.
As part of its latest review of the sale, farming and marketing of organic consumer products in the EU, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development has decided against including textiles as part of its regulations.
During its latest review the EU looked at four key areas: simplifying the legal framework, whilst ensuring standards are not watered down; co-existence of GM crops with organic farming; better control systems and trade arrangements for organic products; and impact of labelling rules.
A statement from the Global Organic Textiles Standard pointed out that “Organic textiles are not currently included in the EU organic regulation, which cover organic food and farming in Europe. This means that the use of the term ‘organic’ is not controlled in the European market, so there are inappropriate and inaccurate claims made resulting in consumer confusion and the risk of GREENWASH”.
However, despite these concerns, the EU concluded that the legal basis of the organic regulation should not be extended to cover products such as textiles and cosmetics, stating that “organic farming should remain focused on agriculture since it is a crucial instrument to deliver environmental services and boost development, innovation and employment in rural areas.”
This leaves a significant gap in the organic legal framework, and GOTS noted that “Organic textiles are an important part of the overall organic market. They provide an opportunity to improve sustainability with a global reach. Making sure that the organic label is based on robust standards and verification will help provide confidence to consumers and build the organic textiles market.”
The EU Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry is responsible for textile labelling, and a recent report on the need and options to harmonise labelling has looked at the scope for recognising GOTS as a basis for regulating organic textile labelling (as is the case in the USA). As such, GOTS has now been invited to participate the EU Expert Group on Textile Names and Labelling.
Elsewhere, the 1st Stakeholder Input Period (16 May – 30 July) in the formal revision process to develop GOTS Version 4.0 has just concluded with around 200 individual contributions.
The GOTS Technical Committee has already started to thoroughly evaluate and assess the contributions and will consult further experts as necessary to complete the 2nd Revision Draft. The 2nd Revision Draft will be published on 1 November 2013 and GOTS Version 4.0 and the related manual are intended to be released in March 2014.