Australia's Science Agency "The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation" (CSIRO) is working on cotton plants that grow with an array of natural colors [abc.net.au] rather than the usual plain white, which requires environmentally problematic dying.
[The cotton is] the product of CSIRO plant breeders dedicated to producing better, sustainable natural fibres that will hopefully one day lead to wrinkle-free, naturally dyed, stretchy cotton to outperform synthetic fabrics.
Colleen MacMillan leads the team of scientists who have cracked cotton's molecular colour code, adding genes to make the plants produce a colour.
Cotton grown without a need to dye it later can have significant environmental advantages.
While cotton is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, it still needs to be dyed, and the use of sometimes harmful chemical dyes is considered a blot on the industry's environmental copybook.
Particularly significant is the CSIRO team's work to breed naturally black cotton to replace black dyes, which are regarded as the most polluting of textile colours.
The team is also working on wrinkle-free cotton varieties [abc.net.au].
The textile industry is considered "the second-most polluting in the world" and clothes are not typically environmentally friendly. Natural cotton clothing breaks down in landfills in as little as three months, but Australian lingerie designer Stephanie Devine notes that, on average
60 per cent of our clothes are actually made of polyester, which lasts 200 years in landfill, and we typically only use natural fibres in 6 per cent of our clothing.
Synthetic biology vs synthetic textiles, would you wear genetically engineered clothing?