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Hohenstein Goes After GMOs in Organic Cotton

Textile testing partner Hohenstein has developed a new quantification method for genetically modified cotton.

Hohenstein uses DNA analysis–one of the first labs with this ability–to identify known genetic modifications and calculate their percentage in organic cotton. Stakeholders will use the data to distinguish between minor contaminations and mixtures, control quality and verify claims.

Hohenstein noted a sharp rise in demand for organic cotton products. In the cultivation of organic cotton, GMO seeds, chemical pesticides and fertilizers are prohibited. However, genetic modifications are repeatedly found in textiles that are labeled with organic claims. Hohenstein said only claims and certifications backed by reliable testing should be trusted.

Previously, Hohenstein developed a molecular biological detection system that provides reliable evidence of the presence or absence of genetic modifications (GMOs) in cotton. Testing can be applied at stages beyond the seed level, such as raw cotton and chemically untreated yarns and fabrics. Hohenstein is also one of the few laboratories in the world with ISO 17025 accreditation to test for GMOs in accordance with the ISO/IWA 32:2019 protocol.

Once qualitative analysis detects genetic modification, Hohenstein experts can identify the type and proportion of the GMOs. DNA analysis is used to search for cotton lines with known genetic alterations and quantify their proportion in the sample.

Hohenstein said this precise information is essential to determining whether an extremely small proportion of GMOs is due is to contamination, or whether genetically modified materials have been mixed in. This knowledge offers benefits to manufacturers, brands and retailers in supply chain transparency and fraud prevention.

With more than 40 offices and laboratories, Hohenstein is an international partner for independent testing, certification and applied research around the human-textile-environment interaction. It develops science-based methods and standards that consider the user in real life, not just in the lab. Through standard or customized testing, and interpretation of the results, Hohenstein experts verify claims and help partners bring better, safer products to market more sustainably. Hohenstein is a founding member and leading provider of the Oeko-Tex portfolio of services, and is certified by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission as a third-party, independent laboratory for compliance verification.