In efforts to help consumers be more ethical, American cotton grower PimaCott wants people to know exactly where their clothes are coming from

The cotton crop is plagued by an inhumane history and present. Farmers in deplorable conditions in India have lost everything they had because of unfair labor practices, and pesticides in countries such as India, China, and Pakistan threaten their safety. In efforts to help consumers be more ethical, American cotton grower, PimaCott, wants you to know exactly where your clothes are coming from.

They've designed a DNA-tagging system that enables buyers to know where their cotton was through every step of the process, before becoming the shirt, pant, etc. they're currently purchasing.

The Pima cotton farms are located in California. They only develop pima, a higher end type of cotton that grows in California's San Joaquin Valley and rome regions of Peru. To ensure their costumers that what they were getting was authentic pima, they partnered with Applied DNA Sciences to develop SigNature tagging.

“Botanically-derived SigNature® T DNA tags can be applied at the gin, allowing for cotton to be tracked and authenticated throughout the entire supply chain, from the raw fiber stage all the way to the retail shelf,” reads Applied DNA's project description, “SigNature T tagging provides assurance of quality and provenance, and helps brands guarantee label claims with certainty.”

Up until now determining the source of cotton was next to impossible—coming and mixing with a number of countries before reaching its final destination. It was also quite easy to claim a fabric was from pima or another high-end cotton, when it was actually a blend with a product of much lower quality.

By placing a tiny marker on every grain of cotton, it becomes possible to place any section of a piece of cotton or fabric under a DNA scanner to check if it has the marker.

The marking happens during the very beginning of the cotton process, at the gin. Pima farmers have had to include DNA tagging as an organic step to their operations.

PimaCott | Applied DNA Sciences

The cotton crop is plagued by an inhumane history and present. Farmers in deplorable conditions in India have lost everything they had because of unfair labor practices, and pesticides in countries such as India, China, and Pakistan threaten their safety. In efforts to help consumers be more ethical, American cotton grower, PimaCott, wants you to know exactly where your clothes are coming from.

They've designed a DNA-tagging system that enables buyers to know where their cotton was through every step of the process, before becoming the shirt, pant, etc. they're currently purchasing.