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Lubbock, Texas | February 10, 2021 In 2019, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) and Textile Exchange partnered to develop the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol1 to create a common language among laboratories worldwide to screen for the potential presence of genetically modified (GM) cotton along the organic cotton value chain.

Following that project, the partners set out on a new initiative to bring much-needed clarity regarding the laboratories that perform testing against the international ISO reference protocol and carry out qualitative GMO testing in cottonseed, leaf, fiber, and chemically unprocessed fiber-derived materials.

The global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative is a collaboration between GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange with technical support from Wageningen Food Safety Research. The joint project has reached a significant milestone: fourteen laboratories from China, Germany, India, the Netherlands, and Portugal have successfully passed the proficiency test. An overview of the laboratories that can currently conduct GMO testing as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 method has now been jointly published by GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange, which constitutes an important milestone on the journey towards the widespread use of this standardized protocol.

Bringing clarity on GMO testing methods for the organic cotton sector, from seed to shirt

While GMOs are excluded from organic systems, organic isn’t a claim of absolute freedom from contamination or GMOs’ presence in organic products2. It is a claim that GMOs are not deliberately or knowingly used and that organic producers take far-reaching steps to avoid GMO contamination along the organic cotton value chain, from farmers to spinners, to brands. To manage this, it is essential that organic cotton stakeholders can reliably test their products for the potential presence of GM cotton.

The ISO IWA 32:2019 is a globally accepted reference protocol that was developed to screen for the potential presence of genetically modified (GM) cotton. The protocol provided the organic cotton sector with an essential tool for taking all reasonable precautions to prevent GM cotton in their organic cotton produce. Since the publication of this globally accepted reference protocol, qualitative GM cotton screening as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 is mandatory within the GOTS and OCS (Organic Content Standard) supply chain and OCA’s Farmer Engagement and Development program.

The sector now recommends using the ISO IWA 32 protocol throughout the organic cotton value chain as the only recognized method for GMO testing. Therefore, the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative’s success is vital in building confidence among the industry.

Commenting on the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative, OCA’s Programme Officer, Mathilde Tournebize, said: “As a global platform, we are committed to increasing the clarity and reliability of GMO screening for the organic cotton sector. The first results of the global proficiency test initiative have given us an overview of the laboratories that can be contacted to conduct such tests. We’re hopeful that as we see more laboratories implementing the ISO IWA 32:2019 worldwide, several rounds of proficiency tests will help us all chart the labs that can be contacted to reliably conduct GMO tests. We are proud to be working in partnership with both GOTS and Textile Exchange as we are united in our belief that this proficiency test will contribute to standardising GMO testing along the organic cotton value chain. Our ambition is to reach out to more laboratories and geographies to increase the widespread use of the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol.”

Rahul Bhajekar, Managing Director at GOTS, added: “I am glad to see a high level of interest from laboratories across the world and results showing competence from producing and buying countries. We shall continue to further advance this collaboration with like-minded organisations to further develop the standardisation of GMO testing in cotton fibre products. We remain committed to ensuring that GOTS goods are free from GMOs.”

Amish Gosai, South Asia Manager at Textile Exchange, said: “The success of standardized testing methods depends on adaptability and uniformed results. Labs achieving a successful outcome in the proficiency test indicates both lab performance and the effectiveness of this method. We are glad to see that this initiative shows that the global ISO IWA 32 testing method gives consistent outcomes, and we look forward to more labs joining the next round of the proficiency test.”

A first step into unifying the sector on GMO screening

The ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative will not cease with the current laboratories; the joint initiative will be repeated regularly. More laboratories are welcome to apply for the next round of proficiency test, which will be organized, once sufficient demand has been reached.

The ISO IWA 32 protocol is also currently in the process of being converted to an International Standard by the ISO TC 34 / SC 16 / JWG 12 ‘Molecular biomarkers of agricultural fibres’. GOTS, OCA and Textile Exchange are participating in the working group to ensure that the organic cotton sector interests are represented.

For more information about the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative, please see below.

Are you a GM cotton testing laboratory that implemented the ISO IWA 32:2019 reference protocol and are you interested in joining the next round of proficiency test? Do you have any questions about the global ISO IWA 32:2019 proficiency test initiative? Or would you like to update your contact details? Please contact Mathilde Tournebize with your query: secretariat@organiccottonaccelerator.org.

**Notes to the Editor**

1In April 2019, after initial conceptualization by GOTS, OCA developed the ISO International Workshop Agreement 32:2019(E) on “Screening of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in cotton and textiles,” with strategic input from the wider organic cotton sector. The protocol provides requirements and recommendations to laboratories that perform qualitative GM cotton screening in cottonseed, cotton leaf, cotton fiber and chemically unprocessed cotton fiber-derived materials up to greige yarn and fabric. This protocol also clarifies the matrices where good quality DNA can be isolated in cotton fiber-derived materials and textiles. The protocol is the result of a consensus-based ISO International Workshop Agreement, facilitated by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN). The development process included perspectives and feedback from all parties concerned (over 80 participants from 23 countries), including representatives from laboratories, cotton producers, suppliers, brands and retailers, standard bodies and governmental agencies.

The technical process of the proficiency test carried out in 2020 was managed by Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR), the organization that acted as a technical project leader for the development of the ISO IWA 32:2019 and is accredited for performing proficiency tests according to the ISO/IEC 17043:2010 on ‘Conformity assessment — General requirements for proficiency testing’ (not specifically in the field of GMOs).

Disclaimer: This proficiency test has been organized to obtain a one-off overview of the laboratories that can currently conduct GMO testing as per the ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol. The participating laboratories have been invited based on existing collaborations with the Global Organic Textile Standard, the Organic Cotton Accelerator and Textile Exchange and/or that of their partners, to the best of their knowledge. The results have been made publicly available for informational purpose only. No radical business decision should be made from the results of this proficiency test regarding the current or future cooperation with laboratories that did not participate or do not appear in the overview of laboratories that succeeded in the proficiency test.

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About Organic Cotton Accelerator

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is a multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to organic cotton. As a global platform, we are committed to bringing integrity, supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton. Since our establishment in 2016, with founding partners Laudes Foundation, H&M, Kering, Eileen Fisher, Textile Exchange, Tchibo, Inditex and C&A, OCA has been committed to convening the sector around a common agenda and using our platform’s collective investments to act as a catalyst for change.

https://www.organiccottonaccelerator.org

About Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global non-profit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials. With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030.

https://textileexchange.org

About Global Organic Textile Standards

GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and child labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict wastewater treatment practices. GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters – Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany), and Soil Association (U.K.) to define globally recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product. GOTS is a non-profit organisation which is self-financed.

www.global-standard.org

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Lubbock, Texas | February 4, 2021 Textile Exchange has launched version 0.1 of the Leather Impact Accelerator (LIA), and a one-year pilot phase is now underway. All LIA 0.1 documents and components are available for use by interested companies, including benchmarking industry standards, trading Impact Incentives, and making corporate commitments and claims.

LIA is a framework that combines existing industry tools and new concepts into a coherent package and enables leather supply chain members – from farmers to retailers – to contribute to a more responsible leather supply chain. 

The International Working Group (IWG) for LIA voted in favor of all core documents just before the holidays, and the full program launched on January 5, 2021, as version 0.1. In 2021, all LIA components are undergoing piloting to ensure implementation runs smoothly and all aspects of the program achieve a level of impact and credibility that the industry expects. At the close of the pilot year, feedback and results will be used to refine LIA for the release of version 1.0.

The burden of sustainability is too heavy to be supported only by producers.”

Charton Locks, COO Produzindo Certo

LIA is not a standard – instead, it is a program that uses benchmarks and protocols to set a minimum threshold for practices at the farm and leather production levels and gives recognition to those who meet or exceed them. Brands can use Impact Incentives to provide direct financial support to farmers that meet LIA benchmarks, and the LIA Claims Guide provides support for all LIA participants to make credible claims.

There are several opportunities for companies to take part in pilot programs. For more information or to register your interest in participating in a pilot, please contact us.

Textile Exchange is also welcoming brands and retailers to make a public commitment to LIA and set targets through the LIA Corporate Commitment program. Learn more about the opportunity to lead the industry in accelerating impact here.

Learn more about LIA and all its components at TextileExchange.org/LeatherImpactAccelerator.

Watch the LIA 0.1 + Pilot Year Launch Webinar

On January 12, the LIA team hosted the webinar “Leather Impact Accelerator (LIA) 0.1 Launch + Pilot Year.” The recording and presentation slides are available for those who were not in attendance.

Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT)

The work on LIA has been led by the International Working Group that sits under Textile Exchange’s Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT). The RLRT is a platform that brings together stakeholders from all parts of the leather industry and related industries to accelerate the adoption of practices that will lead to measurable reduced GHGs from Tier 4 (particularly those that improve biodiversity, water, and soil health) and advance animal welfare and fair treatment of workers.

The RLRT is open to all and holds virtual meetings periodically; find out how you can participate here.

About Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials.

With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030.

To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit TextileExchange.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TextileExchange.

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Textile Exchange’s Benchmark program to cover nature impacts for the first time

Created in partnership with Conservation International and The Biodiversity Consultancy, with support from corporate partner Sappi, the Biodiversity Benchmark provides a roadmap for companies to understand their impacts on nature and to deliver positive outcomes.

Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark (CFMB) program is launching a new tool to help the fashion and textile industry take urgent action on biodiversity. The Biodiversity Benchmark, developed in partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy, Conservation International and kindly supported by Sappi, will enable companies to understand their impacts and dependencies on nature, chart a pathway to delivering positive biodiversity outcomes, and benchmark their progress.

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, forest fires, and increasing evidence of continued dramatic species loss, the importance of biodiversity has never been so clear. At the beginning of 2020, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report named biodiversity loss as one of the top five risks facing society.

The CFMB has tracked corporate fiber and materials sourcing practices since its launch five years ago, mobilizing the fashion and textile industry to accelerate the uptake of preferred materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and preferred manmade cellulosics. The program is the largest peer-to-peer benchmarking exercise in the sector, with around 200 participating brands and retailers, including Gucci, H&M Group, Norrøna, Patagonia, Tchibo and The North Face. In 2020, the CFMB is open to suppliers and manufacturers for the first time, and over 20 leading textile companies – including Birla Cellulose, Part of the Aditya Birla Group, Lenzing, The Schneider Group, Sulochana and World Textile Sourcing (WTS) – are stepping up to take part.

Participating companies are already making significant headway in identifying their portfolio of materials, the sustainability programs they are investing in, targets for uptake and improvement, and calculating their volumetric uptake of preferred fibers and materials in use,” said Liesl Truscott, Director of European & Materials Strategy, Textile Exchange. “The new Biodiversity Benchmark can help take them to the next stage, from decarbonizing their materials to embedding positive biodiversity outcomes in their strategies.

The CFMB’s inclusion of biodiversity comes as 77 political global leaders committed to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September, and over one thousand companies signed up to the Business for Nature Coalition.

Textile Exchange CEO, La Rhea Pepper, commented: “As an organic cotton farmer, biodiversity is at the heart of everything for me. It provides benefits that address climate change, such as carbon sequestration, regulation of local climate air quality, and moderates extreme natural events. Additionally, biodiversity plays a key role in other benefits such as pollination, erosion prevention, waste-water treatment, biological control of pests and disease, and preventing species extinction. Our sector can do so much that is nature-positive, and I look forward to seeing the first benchmark results.”

The Biodiversity Benchmark was co-created by Textile Exchange with The Biodiversity Consultancy, technical and policy specialists in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and Conservation International, a global nonprofit working to protect nature. Generous support was also provided by biobased materials provider Sappi, as a corporate partner.

The Biodiversity Consultancy’s Chief Executive, Dr Helen Temple, said: “The fashion and textile industry now has an opportunity to establish a leadership position in how it tackles biodiversity and nature loss. Nature is in the spotlight more than ever before and understanding where and how companies impact on nature – and what they can do about it – has become increasingly important. Both in terms of operational decisions, and in the pursuit of the systemic, transformational shifts we need to drive nature-positive change.

Conservation International’s Senior Advisor on Resilient Supply Chains, Dr Helen Crowley, commented: “The decisions we make now – as companies, individuals and as a society – will determine how we survive and if we thrive. We need to have the very best information and guidance to take the right decisions and rapid actions. Textile Exchange with this new biodiversity benchmark continues to catalyze and guide the sector towards the outcomes we all need.”

Industry Support for the Benchmark

 The Biodiversity Benchmark was developed with the support of a multi-stakeholder advisory group, involving over 30 biodiversity experts, NGOs and representatives from across the fashion and textile industry.

Krelyne Andrew, Head of Sustainability at Sappi Verve, said: “In a world where natural resources are under increasing pressure, it’s our responsibility to tread more lightly on our planet and work together to protect, restore and sustainably use natural resources. Doing so, is not an event, rather an ongoing process that requires collective action and commitment. We congratulate Textile Exchange on their initiative to mainstream biodiversity action across the textile value chain. As the world’s leading supplier of dissolving pulp as well as casting and release paper into the textile value chain, we look forward to continuing our collaboration to ensure the benchmark delivers positive impacts on nature.”

Eva von Alvensleben, Executive Director of the Fashion Pact, said: “We are very excited for the launch of the Textile Exchange Biodiversity Benchmark. Not only is this a step forward for our signatories in advancing on their global commitments, but will allow for the development of a common understanding of the information needed to shape effective biodiversity strategies as an industry.”

Erin Billman, Executive Director of the Science Based Targets Network, commented: “Since the nature and climate crises are deeply intertwined, we must tackle both simultaneously. We welcome Textile Exchange’s efforts to tackle biodiversity loss and we look forward to working with them and the textile industry on science-based targets for nature. For companies, tackling nature loss alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most efficient approach to reducing both nature and climate-related risk. We need to maximize carbon sequestration as well as help stabilize nature which is the source of the food, fiber and fuel we all depend on.”  

 Dr. Katrina ole-MoiYoi, Sustainable Sourcing Specialist at Kering, said: “Textile Exchange’s new benchmarking tool will provide a guiding light for the industry as it embarks on the critical endeavour of integrating biodiversity into our business strategies. It will not only help take the pulse of fashion’s relationship with nature, but will also propel the type of individual and collective action needed to protect and restore our planet’s precious ecosystems. At Kering, following our ongoing work in this area, including the release of our biodiversity strategy and commitment to have a net-positive impact on biodiversity by 2025, we are delighted to support Textile Exchange in securing broad adoption of its tool, similar to how we have been supporting the science-based target for nature.”

Scott Leonard, INDIGENOUS Co-Founder, said: “The road ahead to adopt business practices that protect biodiversity is an arduous task. We need much stronger alignment with all stakeholders in the value chain surrounding industry to adequately scale the rapid adoption of next generation solutions that truly protect our environment.

Notes

 The Biodiversity Benchmark is launching in beta this year, collaboratively developed by an advisory group. The survey will be open from December 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021. All interested companies are eligible, and it is free to join. For companies participating in the Material Change Index, the signature product of the Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark (CFMB) program access to the survey will be via their existing company portal. New companies can register here: https://cfmb.textileexchange.org/  or contact one of the team at cfmb@textileexchange.org

Getting started:

  • If you are a company, register for the Biodiversity Benchmark and join our Introduction to the Biodiversity Benchmark (webinar date to be confirmed) with Textile Exchange, The Biodiversity Consultancy and Conservation International.
  • Visit the Biodiversity Benchmark website and download the Biodiversity Benchmark Guides
    • Survey Guide (provides detailed support for completing the benchmark)
    • Companion Guide (material-specific information to help build the bridge between a materials strategy and important biodiversity considerations).

 

Textile Exchange Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials.

With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030.

To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit TextileExchange.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TextileExchange.

The Biodiversity Consultancy works with sector-leading clients to integrate nature into business decision-making and build sustainable pathways to positive environmental outcomes. Through our strategic, technical and policy expertise, we guide clients in the fashion and textile sector through biodiversity risk and develop project- and corporate-level biodiversity strategies, risk screening programs, value chain footprinting, and resilient management plans. Our science-based, pragmatic approach delivers robust solutions to complex biodiversity challenges such as achieving Net Gain for biodiversity, creating science-based targets for nature, developing biodiversity offsets, metrics and indicators, and discovering opportunities to go Nature Positive. 

Conservation International works to spotlight and secure the critical benefits that nature provides to humanity. Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International’s mission is to empower societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.

Read our full response here. 

Textile Exchange’s 2014 Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of Organic Cotton that was produced in 2014 by thinkstep (formerly PE International and now part of Sphera), a neutral third-party, is being questioned in an opinion piece that will be published by Apparel Insider in its bi-monthly printed magazine expected to come out November 2019. The overall intent of the articles written by this author (in the upcoming publication and previously in the May 2019 issue) appears to be to create doubt around the environmental benefits of organic and other sustainable cotton initiatives. This is being done by attempting to discredit the water-saving data that is reported in the LCA of Organic Cotton.

Textile Exchange would like to reassure its Members and stakeholders that we stand behind the data that has been collected and reported in the LCA of Organic Cotton. It was the first of its kind for organic cotton and is the best publicly available LCA on the topic to date; it was based on data collected from every organic cotton producing region, aggregated and weighted according to volume to calculate a global average. LCAs provide a snapshot of a select number of environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use. Textile Exchange believes that the LCA of Organic Cotton is a useful tool in identifying the benefits of organic farming. We know, without a doubt, that organic agriculture is imperative to sustaining life for future generations. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Textile Exchange does not find these articles to be based in fact, nor with the scientific rigor that is to be expected in an analysis, but rather they are opinion-pieces. As such, we will not participate in a debate with the author or Apparel Insider who seem to prioritize sensationalism in order to drive traffic to the article and the publication. Textile Exchange has spent countless hours over an eight-month period answering questions and inviting the author to lend her insights as an active member of a wider group of cotton sustainability stakeholders developing ongoing research focusing on data collection for key performance indicators – these invites have gone unanswered.  It is clear that this is not her objective. As a non-profit organization, our limited resources are better spent on projects where we can influence positive change and collaborate effectively without bias and within a scientifically sound framework. Access our full response to Apparel Insider here along with the full message to Textile Exchange Members and stakeholders.

Textile Exchange in the News

  • Preferred Cotton

    Textile Exchange defines Preferred Cotton as ecologically and/or socially progressive because of its sustainable properties in comparison to other options.

  • Recycled Polyester (rPET)

    Recycled polyester is promoted by Textile Exchange as a preferred fiber because it reduces our dependence on petroleum.

  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS)

    Textile Exchange’s Responsible Down Standard (RDS) safeguards the welfare of geese and ducks that provide down and feathers for products we love.

  • Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)

    Textile Exchange’s Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and of the land they graze on.

  • Textile Exchange Members

    Textile Exchange provides our Members with knowledge and tools to drive industry transformation and to Create Material Change.