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Oeko-Tex launches GMO test for organic cotton

The popularity of organic cotton has grown substantially in recent years.

11th April 2018

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Greensboro, NC

Clothing/​Footwear, Interiors, Sustainable

Oeko-Tex is offering new testing to help companies throughout the global supply chain easily test their organic cotton products for GMOs (genetically modified organisms), a molecular-level indicator of whether or not cotton products actually meet a fundamental definition of organic.

“We learned in our The Key to Confidence study that consumers who buy eco-friendly clothing and home textiles are likely to verify claims,” commented Georg Dieners, Oeko-Tex General Secretary. “The new GMO testing gives manufacturers and marketers confidence that their organic cotton products meet regulatory and consumer expectations with regards to GMOs as well as the independent, traceable documentation to prove it.”

Today, about 70% of cotton globally is genetically altered. For example, some forms of cotton have been engineered to be herbicide-resistant. Others have been infused with an insecticide to kill pests like boll weevils. “While the industry can make strong arguments in favour of these cotton DNA modifications, the producers and consumers of organic cotton reject them,” the association explains. “They place greater value on the environmental, social, and product safety paybacks that they perceive organic cotton offers.”

To qualify as organic and to be marketed as such, cotton must meet a comprehensive list of criteria governing the cultivation, processing, and segregation of the cotton. One major requirement is that the cotton plants cannot be genetically engineered.

New GMO testing by Oeko-Tex aims to provide a straightforward manner to test for genetically modified organisms in organic cotton. Samples are analysed using RT-PCR (reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction) technology, which can identify known genetically modified materials at a limit of 0.1%. Test results indicate whether these GMOs were detected or not. Organic cotton products seeking Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex certification will be required to undergo GMO testing. GMO testing is optional for other products. Currently, the GMO testing technology is limited to cotton.

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