Panelist View: Tradition is a barrier to modern cotton grading and classing
CSITC Chair Andrew Macdonald is fighting hard to drive the standardization of testing instruments.
August 12, 2010
Andrew Macdonald, Chair of the Task Force on Commercial
Standardization of Instrument Testing of Cotton (CSITC)
1. Please provide a short description of the material you plan to cover during the Sixth Open Session: “Progress toward Industry Harmonization and Standardization.”
We think that in the not-too-distant future, cotton will be marketed and sold based on the quality tested by instruments. Apart from the accuracy that these instruments can bring the buyer and seller, the cotton classer (as we know him) is becoming extinct. This gradual revolution requires the standardization of the instruments used, emphasizing their accuracy and repeatability. This is the purpose of the Task Force that I have the privilege to Chair.
2. What advantages will cotton industry professionals enjoy once the industry develops an established set of standards that cross national boundaries? What are the implications if the industry can’t do that?
Our competition consists of synthetic fibers that are more versatile and acceptable to the public every day. If we fail to create solid and scientifically based grading or classing of cotton -- which, being a natural product, is susceptible to the vagrancies of weather, soil, and insects -- then long-term cotton is doomed to be the “has-been” fiber. The textile industry can no longer afford to have people hand-classing a raw material that has to be able to perform under very strict standards.
3. What are the major challenges to achieving global standardization? What barriers need to be eliminated before that can happen?
Tradition, and more tradition: "We have always sold and traded cotton this way, so why change?" This is not helped by the fact that current instruments depend on accurate calibration and human involvement, making the results not always accurate. The barrier is still the confidence of the trade and spinners that this is the future, and the barriers of variance in the results require their support for the standardization program.
4. How will attendees be better positioned for success in their businesses after attending this session?
If they are prepared to attend with an open mind that instrument testing is the future -- and are prepared not to hide behind the smoke screen of hand classing to fog the issue to their advantage -- then the session will have been a success.