News-Releases Index | Oeko-Tex®
OEKO-TEX Launches GMO Test for Organic Cotton (4/11/18)
The popularity of organic cotton has grown substantially in recent years. Consumers are increasingly
worried about the environment and about harmful substances in the products they buy for themselves
and their families.1 For them, organic foods and textiles are good choices, and are products for which
they are willing to pay a premium. But, in return for that extra investment, consumers expect the
organic products they buy to be genuine and verifiable as such. New testing from OEKO-TEX® helps
companies throughout the global supply chain easily test their organic cotton products for GMOs
(genetically modified organisms), a molecular-level indicator of whether or not cotton products
actually meet a fundamental definition of organic.
Today, about 70% of cotton globally is genetically altered. For example, some forms of cotton have
been engineered to be herbicide-resistant. Others have been infused with an insecticide to kill pests
like boll weevils. While the industry can make strong arguments in favor of these cotton DNA
modifications, the producers and consumers of organic cotton reject them. They place greater value
on the environmental, social, and product safety paybacks that they perceive organic cotton offers.
To qualify as organic and to be marketed as such, cotton must meet a comprehensive list of criteria
governing the cultivation, processing, and segregation of the cotton. One major requirement is that the
cotton plants cannot be genetically engineered. With today’s complex, global, multi-sourced supply
chain, how can a manufacturer be confident that organic cotton products are not contaminated with
non-organic cotton so that customer and consumer expectations as well as regulations are
New GMO testing by OEKO-TEX® provides a straightforward manner to test for genetically modified
organisms in organic cotton. Samples are analyzed using RT-PCR (reverse transcription- polymerase
chain reaction) technology, which can identify known genetically modified materials at a limit of 0.1%.
Test results clearly indicate whether these GMOs were detected or not. Organic cotton products
seeking STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certification will be required to undergo GMO testing. GMO
testing is optional for other products. Currently, the GMO testing technology is limited to cotton.
“We learned in our ‘The Key To Confidence’ study that consumers who buy eco-friendly clothing and
home textiles are likely to verify claims,” says Georg Dieners, OEKO-TEX® General Secretary. “The new
GMO testing gives manufacturers and marketers confidence that their organic cotton products meet
regulatory and consumer expectations with regards to GMOs as well as the independent, traceable
documentation to prove it.”
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