Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant . The fiber is most of the time spun into thread and used to make a soft but strong textile. Cotton is a valuable crop because only about 10% of the raw weight is lost in processing. Once natural wax, protein, and other unnecessary things are removed, what’s left is a natural polymer of pure cellulose. Cellulose is the structural component of the cell walls of green plants, many forms of algae and the oomycetes. Some species of bacteria separate it to form biofilms.
Cellulose is the most common organic compound on Earth. About 33% of all plant matter is cellulose (the cellulose content of cotton fiber is 90%). This cellulose is arranged in a way that gives cotton unique properties of strength, durability, and absorbency. Each fiber is made up of twenty to thirty layers of cellulose coiled in a neat series of natural springs. When the cotton boll (seed case) is opened the fibers are dried into flat, twisted, ribbon-like shapes and become stuck together and interlocked.
This “mesh” is ideal for spinning into a cotton yarn. Cotton is made up of pure cellulose, a naturally occurring polymer. Cellulose is a carbohydrate, and the molecule is a long chain of sugar (glucose) molecules. In the textile industry, cotton is used in fishnets, coffee filters, tents and in bookbinding. The first Chinese paper was made of cotton fiber, and the modern US dollar bill and federal stationery. Fire hoses were once made of cotton. Denim, a type of durable cloth, is made mostly of cotton, so are t-shirts.
The cotton industry relies on chemicals such as fertilizers and insecticides, and chemical-free organic cotton products are now available. The cottonseed, which is what’s left after the cotton is ginned, is used to produce cottonseed oil, which after fixing can be consumed by humans like any other vegetable oil. The cottonseed meal that is left is generally fed to livestock. Genetically modified cotton was made to reduce the heavy reliance on pesticides. GM” cotton is widely used throughout the world, requiring up to 80% less pesticide than ordinary cotton. The introduction of GM cotton proved to be a disaster in Australia. The outcomes were far lower than expected, and the cotton plants cross-pollinated with other varieties of cotton, causing many legal problems for farmers. However, the introduction of a second variety of GM cotton led to 15% of Australian cotton being GM in 2003 with an expectation of 80% in 2004 when the original variety will be banned.