Tracing cotton’s DNA

Business Daily

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Tracing cotton’s DNA

Business Daily

Can technology help eradicate forced labour from global cotton supplies? A confrontation continues to rise between Western powers, global brands, and the Chinese authorities over the use of forced labour and human rights abuse in cotton production in the western region of Xinjiang. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, explains why transparency from the Chinese authorities over the whole cotton supply chain is unlikely to be forthcoming. With that in mind, some technology companies are volunteering their services to mark or trace the DNA of cotton, so apparel companies can be sure that it's not from a region with suspected forced labour. Jim Hayward, CEO of Applied DNA Sciences, explains how their particular cotton tagging technology works. But John Gapper, business columnist at the Financial Times, cautions that without larger industry willingness to uproot their business models, at considerable cost, the tech can only go so far to solve the problem. Presenter: Tamasin Ford Producer: Frey Lindsay (Picture: Cotton from fields in Xinjiang, China is displayed in the palm of a cotton-picker's hand. Picture credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Can technology help eradicate forced labour from global cotton supplies? A confrontation continues to rise between Western powers, global brands, and the Chinese authorities over the use of forced labour and human rights abuse in cotton production in the western region of Xinjiang. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, explains why transparency from the Chinese authorities over the whole cotton supply chain is unlikely to be forthcoming. With that in mind, some technology companies are volunteering their services to mark or trace the DNA of cotton, so apparel companies can be sure that it's not from a region with suspected forced labour. Jim Hayward, CEO of Applied DNA Sciences, explains how their particular cotton tagging technology works. But John Gapper, business columnist at the Financial Times, cautions that without larger industry willingness to uproot their business models, at considerable cost, the tech can only go so far to solve the problem. Presenter: Tamasin Ford Producer: Frey Lindsay (Picture: Cotton from fields in Xinjiang, China is displayed in the palm of a cotton-picker's hand. Picture credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
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