Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) clarifies organic product standards

Published On: March 12, 2020

GOTS has issued a statement in response to a recent claim by a company stating they hold a certification that’s “More important than organic” and “Textiles with the organic label can still be treated with toxic chemicals at a later stage of production.” While this is possible for uncertified products made from organic fibers, according to GOTS, this is a misleading statement for textiles certified and labelled to the Global Organic Textile Standard. GOTS protects workers and the environment at every stage of production; the GOTS-approved “Positive List” was developed to assure GOTS-certified wet-processors use only chemical inputs with the lowest possible toxicity effects.

GOTS-certified products all begin on an organic farm. For any agricultural product to be sold as “Organic” in the United States (no matter where in the world the crop is grown), the raw fiber must have been certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program’s (NOP) Crop Standard. This includes fibers such as cotton, flax and hemp. Sheep’s wool and other animal fibers must have been raised to the USDA’s NOP Livestock standard. Organic production systems maintain soil fertility and expand biological diversity through crop rotation; they also prohibit the use of synthetic toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, as well as genetically engineered seed. Third-party certifiers verify that organic producers meet strict federal regulations addressing methods and materials allowed in organic production.

What “organic” means

Some textile standards are not related to organic or natural products in particular and include petroleum-based synthetic fibers, which never decompose and are the cause of plastic fiber particles in the waste stream polluting rivers and oceans. A textile product carrying the GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95 percent certified organic fibers; a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’ must contain a minimum of 70 percent certified organic fibers. GOTS is backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling, in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

For information on the term “organic” by the USDA, please see the Policy Memorandum on Labeling of Textiles That Contain Organic Ingredients, and the USDA/AMS document on Labeling Organic Products and supporting GOTS. For more guidance, please read the Organic Trade Association’s Best Labeling Practices for Textiles.

About GOTS

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 fiber (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 labor, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict wastewater treatment practices. GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters: the Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany), and the Soil Association (U.K.), to define globally recognized requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product.

GOTS is a non-profit, self-financed organization. For more information, please visit and follow @globalorganictextilestandard on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.