What is organic cotton?

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.

Organic cotton is grown without using pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified

  • Organic cotton growing method protects the groundwater quality, reduces insects and disease by manipulating the ecosystem.
  • Organic cotton growers prevent pests through beneficial habitat planting. It eliminates the usage of toxic chemicals that are normally used for manufacturing conventional cotton.
  • Organic cotton crops yield higher organic matter, thicker topsoil, lowers modulus rupture, thus reducing soil erosion.

Why organic cotton?

Environment point of view

  • Carbon footprint :-One acre of organic cotton instead of an acre of conventional cotton reduces CO2 release by two tones a year.
  • Conventional Cotton which is planted on less than 3% of the world's arable land,uses around 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the world's pesticides.
  • 1/3 pound of agricultural chemicals are typically used in the production of a single cotton T-shirt.
  • World Health Organization estimates that every year pesticides poison at least three million people and kills 20-40,000 people.
  • Health hazard :- According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton crops are potential or known human carcinogens. Among these pesticides are Cyanide, Dicofol, Naled, Propargite and Trifularin, which are known cancer-causing chemicals.
  • In 1995, pesticide-contaminated runoff from cotton fields in Alabama killed 240,000 fish, and currently, it is estimated that pesticides unintentionally kill 67 million birds each year.

Farmers point of view

  • Spiral of debt : Pests build up resistance to chemicals, farmer borrows money to buy more chemicals than before, farmer gets less profit from crop, repeat until farmer is destitute. In parts of India agricultural chemicals take up 60% of the farmer's production budget. In Maharashtra alone, the government estimates that over 1,000 farmers have committed suicide since 2001 because they were irrevocably in debt.
  • Most pests develop an immunity to these products in 5-6 years, forcing companies to develop stronger chemicals. All these chemicals endanger the farmers and their families’ lives on a daily basis and could potentially be a hazard for all human beings using cotton products (esp the farmers who handle them day-in and day-out) as they contain trace toxins which are never eliminated.

About GOTS

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is "recognised as the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers worldwide. It defines high level environmental criteria along the entire supply chain of organic textiles and requires compliance with social criteria as well." All phases of organic fiber and fabric production must be inspected and certified according to GOTS' strict, uniform standards in order to obtain the certification label "organic".

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