What happened in 2011


TS Designs Announces First Certified Organic Cotton Harvested in North Carolina

In 2006, Eric Henry, president of TS Designs, and Brian Morrell, president of Mortex Apparel, met with experts in state agriculture. Their mission: to grow organic cotton in North Carolina. The response: it can’t be done.

Now, five years later a usable volume of USDA-certified organic cotton is being harvested in North Carolina. Despite a myriad of challenges to growing organic cotton in the state, including weeds, pests and defoliation issues, two North Carolina farms – Hickory Meadows Organics and Parrish Enterprises – have grown 65 acres of healthy organic cotton that will be harvested by the end of the month.

[Download press release] 

Peru Approves 10-Year Ban on GMO

The President of Peru, President Humala, signed the 10-year moratorium to the introduction of GMOs (crops and animals, including aquatic), that was passed by the Parliament in early November. Excluded from the new rules are GMOs used for the research and production of pharmaceutical and veterinary products, given that Peru is subject to existing international trade agreements. Also unaffected by the moratorium is the import of GM-products for direct human or animal consumption or for the manufacture of food or fodder. According to the new regulations though, products exempt from the moratorium must undergo a GMO risk assessment before they can be used. It is expected that this law will prevent widespread cultivation of GMOs and therefore protect Peruvian biodiversity. It should also increase food exports in the coming years by about one billion U.S. dollars. IFOAM news.

[download the legal documentation in Spanish]


People Tree's Safia Minney launches 'Naked Fashion'

In Safia Minney's latest book, designers and creatives from all over the world, including photographers, models, illustrators, actors and journalists, talk about what they are doing differently to make fashion more sustainable.

It seems like a very small thing, choosing a t-shirt or a dress made of organic rather than conventional cotton. But it can make a big difference at the other end of the chain. The environmental impact of fashion is something that needs to concern us all. What’s clear is that fashion’s environmental footprint at the moment is unsustainable. We need to consume less fashion and wear our clothes for longer, while the fabrics and clothes that we do buy need to have more ‘value added’ – benefiting not only the farmers but also as many artisans as possible in its transformation to clothing. Read an exclusive extract from the book in The Ecologist or go to the People Tree website to find out how to buy the book.



Farm Suicides Still Rising in India

More than a quarter of a million farmers have killed themselves in the last 16 years in what is the largest recorded wave of suicides in history. Many media reports blame failed GM Bt cotton crops for the crisis. An investigation by Alex Rossi, India correspondent for Sky News reports that one farmer who committed suicide "had been persuaded to use genetically modified seeds by the possibility of a better harvest. What he wasn't told was that they needed more rain than the region provided." 

Spilling the Beans a newsletter put out by the Institute for Responsible Technology covers this devastating story in their December issue and provides links to recent articles.

Pants to Poverty - break world record!

Ben Ramsden has broken a new world record with his fairtrade underwear brand Pants to Poverty, by managing to fit the largest number of people ever into a pair of pants.

Ben encouraged over 50 commuters to strip down to their underwear at Canary Wharf in London this week, and jump inside a giant pair of underpants to help raise awareness of ethical working practices in the textile industry.

Pants to Poverty is a leading British fairtrade and organic underwear brand and was founded by Ben in 2005 as part of the Make Poverty History Campaign.


California Apparel News - latest reporting on cotton sustainability initiatives 


The California Apparel News interviews Liesl Truscott, Farm Engagement Director, Textile Exchange to dig deeper into the different approaches to 'sustainable cotton'. Read the interview here.

Plus go to California Apparel News to find out more about one of the world's pioneers in textile sustainability. Patagonia was the first large retailer to switch from using conventional cotton to solely organic cotton back in the 1990s, and has been a pioneer in corporate sustainability through its environmental grants program and 1% For The Planet initiative, long before corporate giving became fashionable. Read the full article here Patagonia: Environmental Ethos Is Built Into the Business.





World Cotton Research Conference held in Mumbai discusses new pests in Bt cotton 

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) held the World Cotton Research Conference - 5 (WCRC-5) in Mumbai from the 7-11 November. The theme of the Conference was Technologies for Prosperity.

This year, Bt cotton has been cultivated in 93 per cent of the total 118 lakh hectares of land under cotton. Pests continue to cause problems to growers despite the widespread and increasing use of genetically modified cotton in the country. According to Dr C.D. Mayee, President of the Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, farmers are not so much facing problems from the bollworm that led to the introduction of Bt cotton in the country. Instead, sucking pests, mealy bug, para wilt, thrips, mirid bugs, jassids and pink bollworms are causing problems in cotton. Read the Hindu Times article here.


Participatory cotton breeding for organic and low input farming in India

Up to 80 percent of world’s organic cotton is produced in India. However, this market is threatened due to the displacement of traditional cotton species and cultivars by genetically modified (GM) hybrids selected for high input farming. Organic cotton farmers are facing increased difficulties in finding suitable cultivars in India. Participatory plant breeding (PPB) offers a great opportunity for developing locally adapted cultivars as well as for maintaining and increasing genetic diversity. The close collaboration of farmers with breeders and extension agents in seed variety development allows the identification of cultivars that suit the actual circumstances of resource-poor farmers where marginal production systems prevail.

FiBL are working with Indian cotton farmers and breeders to improve non-GM cotton options. Find out more by visiting the FiBL website

[download FiBL PPB poster here] 

And the winner is... Chetna Organic!

In the ProClimate Challenge, sponsored by HIVOS and Progresso, best practices regarding climate adaptation and mitigation within a number of sectors were judged. 

Chetna Organic Farmers Association won an award for their work in mitigating climate change. In addition to the prize, Pro- Climate and its strategic partners will be promoting the winning organisations and their sustainable practices to stakeholders at both the national and international level, giving the winners the chance to present their efforts in contributing to a better environment to a wider audience.



Remei celebrates 20 years of organic cotton...

This year sees the 20th anniversary of Remei AG.

What started as a project to commercially cultivate organic cotton in India in 1991 has since grown into a successful enterprise producing fashionable textiles from fair trade organic cotton through a controlled and transparent process chain. 

Today Remei is working with 8,400 farmers in India and Tanzania. This growth and longevity demonstrates that  Remei’s business philosophy of “Treating mankind and nature with respect is the key to sustained economic success” holds true. 

When asked if he would do it all over again, Remei founder Patrick Hohmann responds: “Yes, of course! Could I do it better? Maybe. But I couldn't be more grateful! Grateful to have such a wonderful task, grateful to all those who helped me and who are joining us in our effort to establish a social market economy.

As part of the anniversary celebrations a special edition of Cotton Times focusing on the milestones and achievements of Remei has been produced.

[Read the latest Cotton Times]

[Overview of Remei business solution]



The Pre-Conference Cotton Dialogues took place on Sunday 18th September, before the start of the Textile Exchange’s annual conference. Hosted by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Textile Exchange and funded by: ICCO

Description: This meeting served as an opportunity for the Organic Cotton Platform Community and Textile Exchange conference goers to take part in a face-to- face meeting to discuss three critical issues facing the sector: non gm seed availability, responsible trade, and growing the sector sustainably. The three 'roundtable discussions' were facilitated by topic experts. 'Video Blips' (short video interviews) taken during the event can be viewed here.

Please also visit our Global Organic Cotton Community Platform

Now online: Delegate's Guide to Organic Cotton

Part I of ‘The Guide’ takes a look at the impacts of cotton growing and the advantages of organic through the following lenses:

- Health & Safety
- Biodiversity
- Soil
- Water
- Climate Change
- Rural Development
- Country of Origin
- Trade Relations
- Market Growth
- Consumer Awareness

In part II we introduce you to the organic cotton farm leaders who attended the Textile Exchange conference in Barcelona. Here you find out more about the size and scale of some of the organic cotton businesses, and the people who make it happen. 

SEKEM recognised as one of top 16 New Sustainability Champions!

A report Redefining the Future of Growth: The New Sustainability Champions has identified 16 companies from across the developing world that are best showing how to grow profits at the same time as actively tackling environmental and social challenges.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) set out to seek unconventional, practical solutions to the current challenges of growth, aiming to identify and support key business practices, and to relay them to the global community.

This project deliberately did not look to governments, environmental organizations or multinational corporations from advanced economies – all sources of well practiced but as yet insufficient answers. Instead, it went to agents who deal with a wide range of constraints in their daily business: rapidly growing companies originating and operating in the emerging markets, where economic prosperity and populations are growing fastest, and where environmental constraints and stresses are often highest.

As a result of a rigorous research process, the project identified and assessed 16 emerging market-based companies that share a unique mindset and set of best practices: these are the New Sustainability Champions.

[Go straight to the SEKEM story]