In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the RSPB online shop and found that it sold a number of RSPB labelled cotton products that were not marked as organic or Fairtrade.

According to the Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in June 2016, Uzbekistan was the fourth largest exporter of cotton in the world, and every year the government forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated that cotton covered 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet used 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other major crop. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro-biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 68% of cotton grown globally in 2014. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Genetic Engineering category.

Reference:

RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy (15 August 2018)