The EU Commission (DG Agriculture) is in the final stages of a comprehensive review of the EU organic regulation looking at four key issues:
∗ 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;
∗ Impact of labelling rules.
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.
DG Agri has 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.
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 are responsible for textile labelling, and a recent report on the need and options to harmonise labelling has looked at the scope for recognizing GOTS as a basis for regulating organic textile labelling (as is the case in the USA). GOTS has been invited to participate the EU Expert Group on Textile Names and Labelling.