DNA Tagging Could Improve Traceability in the Global Cotton Supply Chain

pic cotton 1

Sustainability Problem: Civic Engagement

  1. Cotton is a fiber with severe social and environmental sustainability issues associated with production. These issues include slavery, suicide,  soil degradation, and adverse health effects and poor water quality from fertilizer and pesticides. It is incredibly difficult for cotton buyers to understand where exactly the raw material is coming from, and influence practices through responsible sourcing.  
  2.  Solution
    • PimaCott, a branch of an international cotton supplier, has partnered with Applied DNA Sciences, a U.S. tech firm to develop DNA tagging for cotton molecules
    • The tagging applied to molecules during the ginning phase with a tiny marker that acts as a barcode
    • The tag allows the cotton to be identified as a specific type, or from a specific place. It will help show that high quality cotton has not been blended with lower quality cotton
    • Being able to trace cotton back further in the supply chain can allow for more accountability on the part of retailers, and seed and fertilizer producers
  3. Stakeholders
    • PimaCott
    • Cotton gin manager
    • Buying/ sourcing manager
    • Consumers
  4. If this technology were to be implemented by a vertically integrated apparel company:
    • Gain buy-in from sourcing/buying team/leadership (potential upcharge, time delay, etc.)
    • Connect with PimaCott to secure use of technology, sign contract
    • Scope and develop implementation plan at cotton gin




UNI- JM4202


One thought on “DNA Tagging Could Improve Traceability in the Global Cotton Supply Chain

  1. In order for the DNA tags to be identified, the cotton can be placed under a simple DNA scanner to see if the DNA markers are present. The DNA tags also permanently bind to the cotton so that they will always be present once applied.


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