Australian CSIRO (the commonwealth scientific and industrial research organisation) scientists have figured out how to add genes to cotton’s molecular code so that it grows ‘naturally’ coloured.
The cotton is no more than plant tissue in petri dishes at the moment, however an array of colours from bright yellow, to red and deep purples can be seen on the plant tissue which will be planted.
In a few months the cotton will grow and will hopefully confirm the success of CSIRO plant breeders in growing coloured cotton which will be a significant development for the global textiles industry.
Although cotton is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable it loses sustainability points when it comes to colouring it as it requires the use of harmful dyes and wastes gallons of water.
The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions, whilst textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally.
The production of cotton that grows naturally coloured would be a huge step in bio-technology and sustainability. Even better, is if CSIRO scientists can modify the genes of cotton plant tissue to grow black as black dye is considered to be the most polluting.
Australia, which exports $2.5bn of cotton each year, will be the first country to benefit from the innovation but it is worth keeping up with as it develops.
CSIRO are also working on producing naturally stretchy cotton that will outperform synthetic fibres as well as wrinkle free cotton which will reduce the need for ironing.