Why You Should Buy Organic Cotton

The Environmental Justice Foundation lists several of the pesticides used in cotton growing: Aldicarb, Endosulfan, Monocrotophos, and Deltamethrin. These chemical products can cause harm to humans. Aldicarb is listed by the World Health Organziation as “extremely hazardous,” The Institute of Science in Society says that one drop can be fatal to an adult male. Endosulfan was reported to have caused 24 confirmed deaths of cotton workers in the African nation of Benin in 1999. An estimated 70 other deaths were reported from the same Endosulfan exposure. (Source: Institute of Science in Society)

The US Geological Survey stated in a paper explaining why they are investigating cotton production, “Cotton receives as much as 7 kilograms per hectare of herbicide and 5 kilograms per hectare of insecticide (Gianessi and Puffer, 1990).” As an indication of how these amounts compare to those used on a common food grain, they wrote, “These applications of pesticides are 3 to 5 times greater per hectare than applications of pesticides to corn, yet there have been no regional studies of pesticide fate in the cotton belt.” They noted there are eleven states in the cotton belt – where the majority of US cotton is grown.

The Organic Consumers Association has written, “Cotton uses more than twenty-five percent of all the insecticides in the world and 12% of all the pesticides. Cotton growers use 25% of all the pesticides used in the US. ” They also say, “75% of the cotton and cottonseed in the US is genetically modified.”

But insecticides used on cotton can also harm wildlife. North Carolina State University has a lengthy article on Pesticides and Wildlife in which they wrote, “Several foliar insecticides used on cotton are extremely toxic to wildlife; these include phosphamidon (Dimecron), dicrotophos (Bidrin), and dimethoate (Cygon).”

Not to mention the vast quantities of water used in cotton production. Some say the Aral Sea has been dried up due to the diversion of its water to cotton fields. It could be one of the most massive environmental disasters in modern history.

Organic cotton production for 2008-2009 increased 20 percent, but it is still less than one percent of global cotton production. Still, there has been a slight shift on the part of various companies who are trying to offer more organic cotton products. “Until recently an expensive rarity, organic cotton t-shirts are cropping up on supermarket and bargain retail shelves, from Tesco or Topshop in Britain to Auchan in France or Primark in the United States.” (Source: BusinessDailyAfrica.com)

Image Credit: Public Domain

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Andy L.
Andy L.7 years ago

Great article. It's scary stuff when you dig a little into cotton farming! Keep up the good work - and if you want another place to buy ethical clothing, you might wanna take a look at: http://www.muddandwater.com

Melissa Dion
Melissa Dion7 years ago

You can find organic cotton clothing at http://ecolissa.com.

John C.
Past Member 8 years ago

"From The Land Of Cotton" Thanks!

Kristy E.
Kristy E.8 years ago

Thanks for the article! My sister and I have an organic cotton t-shirt line and will be creating a full clothing line next fall. Check us out at www.orgotton.com or follow us on facebook at http://companies.to/orgotton/

Allegra W.
Past Member 8 years ago

Thanks for the info!

Erin B.
Erin Bardonnay8 years ago

There's a show on the Sundance Channel called EcoTrip. One of the episodes is about cotton and how toxic the production process is. The host also points out that cottonseed oil, a VERY common ingredient in packaged foods, also comes from the same cotton as clothing. And since cottonseed oil is basically an industrial byproduct, it's not regulated the same way as other food-grade oils. Yuck! Yet another reason to support organic cotton with our dollars.

Debi C.
Deborah C8 years ago

I have some organic cotton clothes. Would love to buy more, but I'm tall and most of them seem to be made for someone much, much shorter than me. Even the men's clothes seem oddly shorter than normal *sigh* Wish a company would make trendy, organic clothes for tall women, that would be great!

Montse Aloy
Montse Aloy8 years ago

Softer than average cotton, and mind-bearing fashion article. Good!!

Julianna D.
Juliana D8 years ago

thanks for the info- will certainly look into organic cotton.

Annick Letourneau