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‘Significant’ Volume of Xinjiang Cotton Mislabeled as US or Brazilian

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By Jasmin Malik Chua

Forced-labor-linked cotton from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is still sneaking its way into products sold by U.S. and global retailers, with a sizable portion hidden in blended fibers identified as American or Brazilian in origin, a new report has found.

That 19 percent of more than 820 cotton-containing samples, purchased and probed over a year, tested positive for Xinjiang cotton is “significant,” particularly in the wake of its ban in the United States under the two-year-old Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.said MeiLin Wan, vice president of textile sales at DNA authentication firm Applied DNA Sciences.

“If it was 5 or 10 percent, I’ll be saying, ‘Maybe that’s just an artifact,” said Wan, whose company conducted the study with isotopic analysis lab Stratum Reservoir. “But the fact that it sort of this one-in-five number is similar to what people have been recording and guesstimating.”

Wan was referring to the oft-quoted statistic that one in five cotton garments sold globally contains Xinjiang cotton. China derives some 90 percent of its cotton from the northwestern province, where authorities have been accused of engaging in the widespread persecution and modern-day enslavement of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities, though Beijing adamantly denies this. Chinese cotton, in turn, makes up roughly 20 percent of the world’s total of the white fluff.