Cotton is grown around the world as a cash crop. The cotton plant produces two marketable products: a unique hollow fiber and a seed.
Cattle can eat the seed because of their ruminant digestive system, but people can’t.
That’s about to change, thanks to research at Texas A&M University with funding from Cotton Incorporated.
The gene for gossypol—the chemical that makes cottonseed indigestible for humans, hogs and other animals—has been turned off in the research.
This creates a new market for cotton farmers and could provide relief for protein-deficient diets around the world.
The new seeds can be eaten, ground into flour or made into a spread like peanut butter. It will take some time to commercialize this breakthrough, but cotton farmers could enjoy a brand new market and millions of people will have a new source of food.
And cottonseed will be fed to animals that could not previously eat it.
If you’ve ever smelled cottonseed cake stored for cattle feed, you know it smells wonderful—good enough to eat. Soon that will be literally true.