A recent report from Mintel consumer, media and market research analysts has disclosed that ethical shopping has reached new heights with rising demand for organic and fair-trade products, and also many more shoppers recycling packaging. This growing trend reflects consumers concerns about global warming and the exploitation of developing countries.
In June 2007 representatives from the United Kingdom organic sector urged the Environment minister David Miliband not to allow organic food to be contaminated by genetically modified organisms. It is evident according to the Food and Drink Federations organic group that one of the main reasons consumers buy organic is to avoid eating food contaminated with G.M. The government is proposing to increase the threshold for G.M. contamination of organic food from 0.1% to 0.9%. This move is fiercely opposed by the Soil Association who argue that it is not economically sensible for the government to tamper with current regulations given that the organic market is one of the fastest growing areas of the U.K. economy. It has been confirmed by the Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers however that they would maintain the current non G.M. Standard of 0.1% whatever is decided by government. The government’s stance is in line with the E.U. regulation recently adopted. Although G.M. companies were consulted by government it was reported that no direct contact was made with an organic business. Which might lead us to conclude that ‘money’ talks.
Whilst the organic food industry is growing fast the same can be said for the global market for organic cotton which is reported to be booming. Consumers are no longer simply eating organically they are wearing organic clothes, using personal care products and equipping bathrooms and bedrooms with textiles made from organic cotton. The fashion industry has an enormous impact on the environment in terms of textiles used; and it could be argued that it is very positive for ethical consumers that designers such as Katherine Hamnett and Stella McCartney are including organic cotton garments in their collections. There is now a greater choice of organic cotton clothes than ever before. At Sonesuk we have an exciting range of baby and children’s clothes designed in the U.K. Organic cotton production is estimated to increase over the next three years as more farmers join existing projects and further planned projects reach fruition. Farming organic cotton is based on a system that maintains and enriches soil fertility without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers and genetically modified seeds. All of this is generally good news for consumers that are aware of both what they put into their bodies and what they clothe themselves and their children in. But we should be aware of strong market forces determined by profit and market domination seeking to pursue their own interests to the detriment of others.