DNA Tagged Cotton Will Change the Way You Shop

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Pimacott, the American division of Indian cotton giant Himatsingka is developing a new technology that allows you to pinpoint the origins of your T-shirt more precisely than ever before. The company has innovated a system of cotton tracking that adds DNA tags to raw cotton, these genetic signatures are specific to the farm that the cotton was sourced from. With a simple DNA scan consumers and garment producers can ensure that their cotton has been ethically produced.

Why is this important? For shoppers, it ensures that companies that claim they make their products from organic cotton are not diluting their textiles with fibers that have been exposed to pesticides or genetically modified. DNA tagging is also critical to ensuring that human rights violations don’t take place at the point of production, often there are horrific abuses surrounding cotton farms in the developing world.

For example, agrochemical giant Monsanto produces genetically modified cottonseeds that self-destruct after one harvest; natural seeds can be saved and reused by farmers for many years. Farmers who buy the genetically modified seeds from Monsanto must also sign a contract barring them from saving their seeds for the next season, if the corporation finds a farmer saving seeds it will sue them. To buy new seeds each season farmers in the developing world often have to go into debt, seed debt has led to over 300,000 farmer suicides in India over the past 20 years where Monsanto supplies 90% of cotton seeds.

The effects of unethical cotton farming reach far beyond India. In Uzbekistan 4% of the population are enslaved because they have been kidnapped to work in the cotton trade. Many Uzbek cotton slaves working in the fields are children. Where there aren’t inhumane labor practices, the use of pesticides cause long-term health problems for agriculture workers and poison the water supply of hundreds of thousands of farming communities across the world. Eventually, the goal is for this technology to become widespread, which should have a profound impact on agriculture workers around the world.

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createdAt:Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:29:41 +0000
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