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Spotlight | May 2016

Textile supply chain protection - It's all in the DNA!

What has DNA to do with textiles? Plenty.

It can check counterfeiting in a land where piracy thrives!

Gobal economic and social impacts of counterfeiting and piracy have already touched $1.7 trillion in 2015 and put 2.5 million legitimate jobs at risk each year, said an International Chamber of Commerce’s Report. Now, DNA has come to the rescue! DNA, how? Using biotechnology as a forensic foundation, Applied DNA Sciences, a New York-based company has created unique security solutions to combat counterfeiting and other challenges of modern commerce. Whether working in supply chain security, brand protection or crime prevention applications, the goal of Applied DNA Sciences is to help establish secure and flourishing environments that foster quality, integrity and success.

“SigNature T DNA is a unique, botanical-based tagging and authentication system specifically designed for textiles and apparel. This solution can be designed to accommodate a wide range of applications, from consumer apparel, home textiles and industrial treatments. Antar Advisors Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad, is the sole representative for Applied DNA Sciences in India. Peush Narang is its Director.

Indian textile and garment industry needs oodles of DNA! In no uncertain terms, MeiLin Wan, Vice President, Textile Sales, Applied DNA Services, explained the DNA concept of her company while speaking to Samuel Joseph, Editor of The Indian Textile Journal in an exclusive interview.

Excepts:

Editor: Please give us some background information about your company. Why are you in India?

M. Wan: Applied DNA Sciences is a company based in New York and we are a biotechnology company, which means we actually use DNA that comes from clients and we use it on things like textiles. We have been working with Pima cotton DNA from cotton fibre in America and we follow that cotton all the way to supply chain end. It provides for traceability of the DNA tag from the fibre to yarn to fibre to finished goods.

Everyone could be sure that cotton fibre is used throughout the process and the label produced is true.

So what people say they are doing is what they are doing by using DNA tagging. We have an another technology where we look at the DNA inside the cotton plant itself. This is a genetic test to look for the unique signature fingerprint of the cotton DNA. Cotton has a certain DNA like you and I, and Pima Cotton has its own unique DNA. We have a test that can tell you whether the shirt contains Pima DNA or the upward DNA. This test can help ensure that product is 100 per cent Pima through a genetic test. By this way, we provide solutions to the industry to help keep the authenticity of the yarns and fabrics pure as well as the supply chain pure.

Editor: How does this actually work?

M. Wan: So if a company uses this system, they can provide details and access. Then they use the DNA and they tag it on the fibre. We do the DNA test as it is made into yarn and fabric. Quality of the fibre is preserved because of the DNA tag. Because there is no blending. There is a lot of blending of cheaper fibres to keep the cost down. The problem is that when you sell a product like Pima cotton to USA, when we do a DNA test blending with cheap fibres can be traced.

We give the surety. It is relatively a new technology and we have started to promote it now. We have started it in USA and we want to bring it in India and eventually planning to set up a laboratory in India so that we can provide services to the spinners and the manufactures. If they want to do the DNA testing, we are available. If they want to tag the yarn or fabrics, they can use DNA testing.

So this technology is changing the way the industry works. It is definitely about quality and it is also about authenticity. A lot of companies can prove that their fabrics or their yarns are the best. It is providing a means to test and ensure a genuine product.

Editor: Does it help Indian fibres?

M. Wan: Not right now. Right now we are only tagging the American fibre. But in the future it could help other fibres around the world. Right now because it is a relatively new technology, we are working on tagging American cotton as much as we can and then following it.

Editor: Where exactly will be the tagging visible?

M. Wan: The tag happens at the ginning process just when the fibre gets harvested. It goes to the gin and then we spray the DNA in the water and hydrate the cotton and then it gets baled. This is the process we follow. We can follow it from the source to all the way to the shop.

We actually started promoting this concept last year in India. The DNA for cotton is applied when we do the ginning of the cotton at the first stage itself. There is no change in quality, no change in performance. DNA is a molecule, it has no impact on the product or the process. Once it is tagged the cotton gets baled and then it gets shipped to other countries. It covers the entire chain.

Right now we are doing only for the cotton. We are also developing application for polyester yarns. We actually tag from the plastic pallet all the way to product. That is a new development as far as polymer man-made fibres market is concerned. We also do some applications with DNA in finishing treatments. We give special treatment like antimicrobial treatment and put DNA in that to ensure antimicrobial treatment is in fact used on the fabrics. Because a lot of manufacturers take treatment and then delete it and you won’t get the benefit of antimicrobial at the end. Our tagline is to keep textile real and safe. If the textile isn’t real then it probably isn’t safe. That would be the message.

Editor: Which are the other markets are you in?

M. Wan: Apart from tagging textiles, we do other work with the USA Government to tag micro chips. We also do work in security. We could tag money in sting operations, and when the money gets stolen, we can recover it. DNA concept actually came from prevention/security work.

We are bringing all the knowledge from there to textiles to ensure that the supply chain and the products in the supply chain are genuine.

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