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AI to help weed forced labor out of cotton

  • Published on
    August 20, 2023
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Law & Policy, Supply Chain, Technology & Tools
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Legislation aimed at eliminating forced labor is rolling out around the world, forcing companies to start mapping their supply chains to prove they are free of forced labor.

According to Reuters, later this year a new AI guided supply chain mapping tool is set to be launched by TrusTrace. The tool promises to support brands in complying with recent U.S. legislation, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLP) with further launches planned to aid in compliance with laws set to be passed around the world. 

Supply chain mapping set to be the newest trend in the fashion industry 

Forced labor, child labor and labor exploitation are well documented across the global cotton industry, most notably Turkmenistan, China and Uzbekistan. Up until recently, a lack of accountability has meant that approximately $468 billion worth of garments imported to the G20 were at risk of having modern slavery in their supply chain according to the 2023 Fashion Transparency Index. However, recent and upcoming legislation in the U.S., the E.U., the U.K. and others aims to change all that, meaning it’s time for a new trend in the fashion industry.  

Shameek Ghosh, founder and chief executive of the new traceability platform provider TrusTrace said: 

“The fashion industry has been operating for the last 30-35 years by turning a complete blind eye to supply chain issues and taking no liability. If brands already had this data, the new laws would not be such a big problem for them,” 

By using artificial intelligence (AI) to read all the documents about the various products, their origins and production, and then cross-checking them with central databases of certification and audit bodies all over the world, the mapping process can be streamlined. This would help companies make the transition to slavery free supply chains quickly and more effectively.  

New laws, new liabilities, new tools = more accountability  

In the past, laws and policies aimed at cleaning up supply chains placed responsibility only on tier 1 suppliers, or the company directly supplying the product to a given brand. However, new legislation by governments is increasingly holding the brands themselves legally accountable for the elimination of forced labor in their supply chain.  

Patricia Jurewicz founder and chief executive of the Responsible Sourcing Network said: 

 “We’re going to start seeing more lawsuits, and then we will see more work being done to implement due diligence through the whole value chain, all the way to the raw material,”  

These more stringent laws, along with new technologies like the TrusTrans AI tool and the use of DNA identification to trace the origins of cotton yarn, coupled with better due diligence can make a huge difference in cleaning up cotton supply chains all over the world.  

You can help cotton get clean! 

Recent laboratory tests ordered by Bloomberg found that some of fast fashion giant Shein’s cotton was sourced from the Uyghur Region. Numerous reports have linked them to unethical business practices including worker exploitation, copyright infringement and environmental harm. That’s why we’ve launched a new action for you to write to Shein and join a massive worldwide movement pressuring the company to do better. 


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Gillian Yanow
Gillian Yanow
10 months ago

Shein and many others need to be stopped from this abusive behaviour.

Mary Barr
Mary Barr
10 months ago

We Americans take for granted our constitution which we forget millions of people have fought for our freedom, past, present, and future. Let us speak up for those who are not able in our World today and in the future to speak for the powerless children and adults to put an end to slavery. Read an article published in The Newyorker magazine — about year or two ago — written by a woman who was able to escape slavery in China. We have no idea the suffering that goes on We need to act—please. Tha

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