By Brian Collett — Pinpointing the source of cotton goods in today’s complex market has been made possible through technology devised by growers and scientists working in partnership.
PimaCott, which runs farms in California, and Applied DNA Sciences, a biotechnology company in New York state, add molecules with DNA tags to the cotton at the start of the manufacturing process so that the textile can be scanned and identified.
This allows supply chain stakeholders to verify that the cotton is derived from responsible sources.
The procedure should help companies to avoid cotton from growing areas such as Uzbekistan that use slave labour and textiles that are falsely claimed to be made from, say, Egyptian cotton.
The partners that have produced the scheme accept that DNA tagging may take years to be widely accepted, partly because it represents another expense in an industry often plagued by unfavourable weather and commodity price slumps. However, PimaCott says it is helping growers with upfront costs.
There is speculation, too, that this tracing method could be applied to other agricultural products.
Photo: iStock Andrea Renata