Organic agriculture protects the health of people and the planet by reducing the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences, from asthma to cancer. Because organic agriculture doesn't use toxic and persistent pesticides, choosing organic products is an easy way to help protect yourself.
Here are some reasons why organic cotton production is important to the long-term health of the planet.
Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.). (Allan Woodburn)
Approximately 10% of all pesticides sold for use in U. S. agriculture were applied to cotton in 1997, the most recent year for which such data is publicly available. (ACPA)
Fifty-five million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on the 12.8 million acres of conventional cotton grown in the U.S. in 2003 (4.3 pounds/ acre), ranking cotton third behind corn and soybeans in total amount of pesticides sprayed. (USDA)
Over 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to conventional cotton in 2000 (142 pounds/acre), making cotton the fourth most heavily fertilized crop behind corn, winter wheat, and soybeans. (USDA)
The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2000 in the United States as "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (EPA)
In 1999, a work crew re-entered a cotton field about five hours after it was treated with tribufos and sodium chlorate (re-entry should have been prohibited for 24 hours). Seven workers subsequently sought medical treatment and five have had ongoing health problems. (California DPR)
Sources: OTA's "2006 U.S. Organic Production & Marketing Trends" report.
• It takes 1/3 lb. of pesticides and fertilizers to produce enough cotton to make just one t-shirt.
• Organically grown cotton uses beneficial insects and biological and cultural practices to control pests and build strong soil.
• Hemp, bamboo and even recycled soda pop bottles are also being made into t-shirts, pants, skirts, blouses, and dresses.
• Each year, non-organic cotton producers around the world use nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides.
• Problems linked to pesticide use include: reduced soil fertility, frequent water pollution, reduced biodiversity in the surrounding areas and wild animal and livestock poisoning. Source: Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
- Benefit of Organic, retrieved from http://www.ecomall.com/biz/clothing.htm on October 1, 2010.