USDA Researchers Test System to Track U.S.
Cotton Products By
Rosalie Marion Bliss
February 23, 2004
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23--The
Agricultural Research Service and a
California-based corporation will work together to develop a tagging system
that will be used to trace U.S.-sourced cotton and textile components through
rigorous manufacturing processes.
The tagging system would involve embedding into cotton fibers
hidden information that would allow officials using hand-held devices to
authenticate a cotton textile's U.S. source. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
in-house scientific research agency.
ARS officials have signed a cooperative research and development
agreement with Applied DNA Sciences, Inc.,
of Los Angeles, Calif. The company develops DNA-embedded technologies to
protect property from counterfeiting and fraud. The cooperators plan to test
and develop these technologies to effectively identify cotton yarns. The
company will work with scientists at the ARS
Cotton Quality Research Station
at Clemson, S.C.
"Creating a security tag that costs less than 1 cent per pound
of cotton is important to the U.S. cotton and textile industries and to Customs
agents," said ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling.
Globally, cotton producers and textile mills are connected
through an intricate weave of their own. As the world's largest consumer
market, the United States is an attractive destination for cotton-containing
products. At the same time, U.S.-grown cotton and textiles are often exported
to be processed by foreign apparel makers. When these garments are imported
back into the United States for sale, some made from U.S. cotton are allowed to
re-enter with favorable tariff treatment. But because labels are removed from
cotton bales and textiles during apparel manufacture, the origin of the fibers
and textiles used in goods is difficult to trace.