CSIRO researchers have genetically modified cotton to make it naturally coloured The development will be lead to wrinkle-free, naturally dyed, stretchy cotton to outperform synthetic fabrics. It will benefit the $2 million Australian cotton industry. Though renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, the cotton still needs to be dyed, and the use of sometimes harmful chemical dyes is considered a blot on the industry's environmental copybook. The naturally black cotton will replace black dyes, which are regarded as the most polluting of textile colors.
It's estimated that on average, each Australian produces about 25 kg of textile waste each year. Much of it is synthetic and it ends up in landfill, where it will take hundreds of years to degrade. Genetically modified cotton, known as biotech cotton, could have a substantial impact on the textiles world. A move away from synthetic materials in favor of cotton would be an important step in protecting the environment.
The team is also working on a longer-term project, creating wrinkle-free cotton that doesn't require ironing. It involves screening and testing thousands of cotton plants to transform them into new super-cotton varieties to produce fiber with greater elasticity that can compete with synthetics.