Joint Project Seeks Higher-Strength Cotton
By Sean Adams
June 6, 1997
Breeding cotton varieties that produce
higher-strength fibers is the goal of a joint research project between
U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists
and the biotechnology company Agracetus.
In the scheduled five-year research effort, scientists with USDAs
Agricultural Research Service are
evaluating transgenic cotton plants produced by Agracetus, a Middleton,
Wisconsin-based unit of Monsanto.
ARS scientists at Florence, S.C., select the most promising transgenic
plants and cross them, through conventional breeding, with other varieties to
develop cotton plants that produce fiber with higher strength than current
Stronger cotton fiber is important to industry because new high-speed
machinery used to produce cotton yarn requires stronger fiber to work most
effectively. This new technology has been driven by global competition that has
forced manufacturers to produce more cotton yarn and fabric at less cost.
Higher-strength fabric could give the United States an edge in the global
textile market. U.S. cotton exports are expected to be 7-7.5 million bales in
1996-97--slightly less than the 7.7 million bales in 1995-96 and considerably
lower than the near-record 9.4 million bales in 1994-95.
Another factor: Clothing thats 100-percent cotton--but still
wrinkle-resistant--has become more popular in recent years. But to achieve
wrinkle resistance, manufactures must chemically treat the fabric, a process
that can cause a 30- to 50-percent reduction in the fabrics strength.
Scientists say this impact could be partly offset with fiber that starts out
Scientific contact: O. Lloyd May, ARS
Coastal Plains Soil, Water and
Plant Research Laboratory, Florence, South Carolina, phone (803) 669-5203,
ext. 7255, fax (803) 662-3110, firstname.lastname@example.org.