In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's website for a cotton sourcing policy. The company owned several clothing brands using cotton.
The following statements relating to cotton sourcing were found: “In 2019, Amazon joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.”
"Additionally, in 2019 we signed the Responsible Sourcing Network’s public Cotton Pledge to not source cotton from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan until the pervasive use of government-mandated forced labor is stopped".
According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. As Amazon had committed not to sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, this was considered to be a positive policy addressing a workers’ rights issue.
The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Although Amazon was seen to have made a positive step by joining the Better Cotton Initiative, no statement was found indicating that the company had committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton under that initiative.
Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company 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 80% of cotton grown in 2017. 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 Controversial Technologies category.