Regulatory Update: Organic Fiber

Regulatory Update

Growing Organic Cotton

The Global Organic Textile Standard’s (GOTS) Technical Committee (I serve as the Technical Committee Representative for North America) is in the process of revising GOTS 4.0 to launch an updated version (GOTS 5.0) in April 2017. The third revision draft will be completed and then reviewed and decided upon at the BioFach Trade Fair in Nuremburg, Germany (February 2017). As an Advisory Council member and stakeholder invited to comment on the revision, OTA submitted comments largely in support of the first draft revision. However, OTA is also urging the Technical Committee to make a revision that will accept USDA-NOP certification of cotton ginning in the United States as equivalent to GOTS certification. Currently, the ginning process must be NOP and GOTS certified although the requirements are the same. OTA’s requested revision will support U.S. production of organic cotton by removing obstacles that result in duplicative certification efforts and unnecessary costs. The second revision will be opened for public comment in September 2016. If you are interested in participating, please let us know.

Expanding organic wool

Organic shepherds must treat infested and sick animals with parasiticides, as the organic regulations prohibit them from withholding treatment to maintain organic status. So, when they must treat sick animals, they are faced with a dilemma: sell that animal and lose desirable genetics, or keep that animal and figure out what to do with non-organic wool. It’s not uncommon for organic sheep producers to have wool piling up in the barn that cannot be sold or labeled as organic.

In response, NOSB recently passed a recommendation to allow the use of parasiticides in emergency situations only (current allowance for dairy animals) on organic fiber-bearing animals provided 90 days elapse between treatment and shearing. They maintain this will ensure organic fleece and wool will be free of synthetic substances and still meet consumers’ expectations. This, in turn, would allow producers to maintain the health of their flock and access the organic premium for their wool, which would position American organic sheep producers to help meet textile manufacturers’ requests for more organic fiber to respond to the growing demand for organic processed wool and GOTS-certified textiles.

NOP accepted NOSB’s recommendation and will eventually release a proposed rule for further comment. OTA supported NOSB’s recommendation and will be requesting member feedback and submitting comments to NOP.

OTA’s Fiber Council

OTA is continuing to strengthen its efforts to promote organic fiber and textiles with its newly formed Organic Fiber Council officially approved in April 2015. The Organic Fiber Council is working to help OTA advance the promotion and protection of the organic brand. Current members include Portico Brands/Under the Canopy, On the Mark PR, Maggie’s, MetaWear, Specialty Sleep Association, Naturepedic, Richard Siegel Law Offices, MOM’s Organic Market, OTCO, Control Union, Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, Dhana, Hae Now Inc., Boll & Branch, Coyuchi and PACT.

The Fiber Council is scheduled to have a presence at Natural Products Expo East 2016 in Baltimore, ShiftCon 2016 in New Orleans, and is planning to launch an exciting media event in spring 2017 featuring a three-day pop-up storefront in New York showcasing organic fiber and textile products. If you are interested in joining the Fiber Council or sponsoring the media event, let us know. To learn more about our fiber work, check out OTA’s website under Advocacy.”