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IOAS Suspends Accreditation of CU India from Certifying Organic Textiles

The International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS) has suspended Control Union (CU) India's accreditation from testing and sampling Indian organic textile products due to allegations of irregularities in the certification process.

Shivam Dwivedi
The suspension also applies to all General Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Textile Exchange scopes
The suspension also applies to all General Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Textile Exchange scopes

CU India is a subsidiary of Control Union Nederland BV, one of the largest organic cotton certifiers based in Rotterdam. In a notification issued on March 5, IOAS stated that all aspects of ISO/IEC 17065, which covers organisations that perform testing, sampling, and calibration for reliable results, had been addressed.

The suspension also applies to all General Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Textile Exchange scopes. The IOAS has also recommended that CU India be suspended from all categories and grower group certification under the Canadian Organic Regime. The suspension followed a "unsuccessful appeal" by CU India not to take action, according to the IOAS.

If the suspension is lifted, CU India has been asked to take corrective action. "While the suspensions are in effect, they (CU India) are not permitted to accept new applications, no certificates may be issued to new applications in progress, and no scope extensions may be issued to existing operators," the IOAS stated.

The decision of the organic accreditation body vindicates the decision of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which barred CU India from registering any new processor or exporter for organic product certification in October 2021. APEDA, the authority in charge of overseeing organic certification, discovered that organic consignments cleared by CU had received nine EU notifications, particularly for shipments by two exporters.

APEDA stated that while the agency found the exporters' sourcing measures insufficient, it failed to report this in the annual inspections. The development comes after a Chennai-based service organisation, the Sri Sri Sri Vivekananda Trust, requested notification of the "Indian Standard for Organic Textiles" to protect Indian organic cotton and the textiles industry.

Following this, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare announced that the Centre intends to launch a new certification system for organic textiles, specifically cotton and derivatives. A committee has been formed to investigate the implementation of the new system. Various irregularities in organic cotton farming have been reported, with many farmers unaware that they are part of a group that has been registered for organic cotton farming.

APEDA inspections revealed that farmers were not adhering to the standards required for growing organic cotton. It specifically penalised three certification bodies in July 2022. Bhummatha Organic Certification Bureau's services were terminated as part of the measures.

CU India informed its clients in April of last year that it was temporarily withdrawing from certifying Indian cotton in India. According to trade sources, CU has established an office in Bangladesh and has shifted its clients to Dutch accreditation.

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