The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) — a voluntary global standard certification encompassing
the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling and logistics-related aspects of
organic apparel and home textiles from fiber through end product — celebrated its five
year-anniversary in 2011. By year’s end, 2,714 facilities in 57 countries were GOTS certified,
including 450 dyeing facilities; more than 220 spinning, knitting and weaving units; and
approximately 160 printing and manufacturing facilities.
The standard is regulated by The International Working Group (IWG) on GOTS, which is
comprised of four reputed member organizations – the Organic Trade Association, Brattleboro, Vt.;
International Association of Natural Textile Industry, Germany; Soil Association, United Kingdom;
and Japan Organic Cotton Association, Japan – that contribute to GOTS, together with international
stakeholder organizations and experts. It not only defines high-level environmental criteria – such
as banned use of genetically modified organisms and highly hazardous chemicals including azo dyes
and formaldehyde, and strict wastewater treatment practices – but also requires compliance with
social criteria including no forced labor or child labor and a safe working environment.
In May 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a Policy Memorandum confirming that
textile products produced in accordance with GOTS may be sold as organic in the United States. It
also stated such products must use U.S. National Organic Program-certified fibers and receive
third-party certification in order to be labeled organic.
“Explicit recognition of GOTS and its labeling system is the best way governments can
regulate the organic textile sector,” said Herbert Ladwig, GOTS IWG coordinator. “The U.S. model is
our recommendation and goal in negotiations with regulators in this sector.”