By GREGORY ZELLER //
An esteemed international certification organization has stamped a ginning company tracking its cotton supplies with the help of Applied DNA Sciences.
The Global Organic Textile Standard certification is another feather in the cap of the Stony Brook biotech, which has long banked on cotton and other textile-focused industries as a business-development cornerstone.
The certification was awarded to Woolam Gin of Texas, an Applied DNA “ginning partner,” by Netherlands-based Control Union Certifications, an international network of companies specializing in international cargo surveying and management. The stamp of approval marks the first certified U.S. organic cotton gin utilizing Applied DNA’s tagging system, which uses DNA-based molecular science to track organic cotton fibers through a certified supply chain.
According to Control Union Certifications, Woolam Gin is 100 percent compliant with all standards and requirements to pass a “GOTS v5.0 audit” – in laymen’s terms, a set of high requirements for processing organics and other strict, socially responsible manufacturing standards.
And its compliance is assured by Applied DNA’s flagship SigNature T platform, the right molecular-tagging tool for “an environment where consumers are demanding more information about the origin and authenticity of their products,” according to Applied DNA President and CEO James Hayward.
“SigNature T assures that the organic cotton grown and ginned in Texas is not blended with other cottons from different origins or with non-organic cotton, thereby remaining pure throughout the supply chain,” Hayward said. “All the way to the consumer.”
While Applied DNA has had a busy summer making authentication inroads in numerous industries – everything from national defense and Aloe vera manufacturing to plastics and fertilizers – cotton has always beckoned as the biotech’s golden goose, and for good reason.
According to the 2016 Textile Exchange Organic Cotton report, the global market value of organic cotton is greater than $15.7 billion and growing, as more brands and retailers expand their organic-cotton collections. In the United States alone, organic fiber sales eclipsed $1.3 billion in 2015.
With “molecularly verified organic cotton” slated to exert major influence on fashion trends in the coming year, consumer interest in organic verification will rise – and Woolam Gin is “pleased to partner with Applied DNA and Control Union to complete our GOTS certification,” according to Woolam Gin Manager Kendall Harris.
“We are committed to a ginning process that authenticates our Texas organic cotton at its source,” Harris noted. “We take this commitment seriously and work hard to ensure that our organic cotton meets the highest standard.
“This was a huge step and it is an honor to become the first GOTS v5.0 certified gin in the United States.”
Coupled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program certification, the GOTS certification represents “the highest possible measurement standard” for organic cotton, according to Applied DNA. In addition to chain-of-custody assurance covering processing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution of textiles made with organic cotton fibers, the GOTS prohibits the use of “toxic inputs” during processing and includes strong labor protections, including prohibitions on child labor.
That’s no minor point for Applied DNA, which has made stopping the use of child and forced labor in Uzbek cotton fields one of its ancillary missions.
“The deployment of our tagging system … reflects the importance industry participants today place on the use of technology to change the way that they source cotton and take control of their supply chain,” Hayward noted.
And while the GOTS certification further entrenches Applied DNA in that cornerstone vertical market, it also sets the stage for exciting new avenues for the company and its all-star Advisory Board to explore, the CEO added.
“Participating in the supply chain of certified organic cotton now sets the precedent for our participation in other certified organic supply chains, providing the assurance that both the manufacturers and consumers demand,” Hayward said.