The main goal of the project is to develop a method to determine whether and in which quantities genetically modified cotton is present in a textile product.

At the same time, we are also interested in identifying other natural fibres including flax, hemp, and wool. The industry is in need of a trustworthy method for more transparency and to detect fraud.

The conventional methods are not suited to make a distinction between conventional cotton and genetically modified cotton since this difference is found in the fibre's DNA. The same methods are not suited either to distinguish between flax and hemp fibres. However, methods based on the PCR technology have already proven their worth in distinguishing the contents of wool, cashmere, and yak and their blends.

This lack of a reliable method opens the door to fraud. Indeed, without a solid detection method, it is very easy to sell GMO cotton as ordinary or even organic cotton. The same goes for the selling of the cheaper hemp as flax to the detriment of the flax industry.

In this study we propose to tackle the problem by means of the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection technique allowing the specific detection of DNA sequences. We will do so in two steps:

  1. total DNA extraction of vegetal samples and finished textiles
  2. PCR amplification of particular sequences showing the presence of interesting species.

The ultimate goal is to draft a European (reference) standard for the identification of genetically modified cotton and of different vegetal and animal species in textile fibres.