We all know that cottom is one of the best and most comfortable fibres in the world for clothing and, of course, for quilts. However, we also know that dyeing it is much more difficult than dyeing silk or wool, and requires some very harsh and toxic chemicals that contribute to the world’s pollution problem.
CSIRO in Canberra has been experimenting with genetic engineering to produce cotton fibres that are coloured rather than white. They have had some success in petrie dishes but the first crop is yet to be harvested so we won’t know if it’s a success for some months. (I also suspect that this is one of the crops that was destroyed by the hailstorm in January, so everything may have been put back by a year or so.) Once they have mastered that, they are going to work on wrinkle-free and elastic fibres which will reduce our dependence on nylon, rubber and polyester, all of which take a long time to break down in landfill.
The story is currently on the ABC News website.
I know some people don’t like genetic engineering, but it’s just a tool — a very powerful tool, yes, but just a tool. Like any other tool it can be wielded for good or for evil. If it can reduce the hazards that dyeing poses to both people and the environment then it’s being used for good.