ZURICH – A new testing procedure from Oeko-Tex claims to be able to accurately identify the presence of genetically modified (GM) cotton in fibres, yarns and even clothing.

The new test method uses RT-PCR (reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction) technology to give a molecular-level indicator of GM cotton in garment samples and has a GM detection limit down to a level of just 0.1 per cent. Oeko-Tex says it has a standard lead time of 10 days and expects it to become a useful new tool to combat potential fraud in the organic cotton supply chain.

Previously, GMO testing laboratories have found it difficult to process cotton fibres that were subject to heat or chemical processes, as it was thought there was no longer enough nucleic material left for a reliable test result by the time a garment was made. 

However, with advances in new DNA technology, it seems these hurdles have now been overcome. Dr Timo Hammer, from the Hohenstein Institute, which developed the test noted: “it’s not true that bleaching, heating and textile wet processing will completely destroy the DNA (in cotton).”

The test method does not quantify exactly how much GM is in a sample, but does give a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ test result to verify its presence in a cotton garment, yarn or fabric. 

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