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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Organic cotton

organic cotton
Organic cotton is generally understood as cotton that is grown without chemical fertilisers or pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified. In the United States the USDA National Organic Program sets the standard although this was designed for food and can lead to some confusion. As of 2007, 265,517 bales of organic cotton were produced in 24 countries and worldwide production was growing at a rate of more than 50% per year. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Though organic cotton has less environmental impact than conventional cotton, it costs more to produce. Side-effects of conventional production that are avoided in organic growing methods include:

* High levels of agrochemicals are used in the production of non-organic, conventional cotton. Cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts in total for 16% of the world's pesticides.
* The chemicals used in the processing of cotton pollute the air and surface waters.
* Residual chemicals may irritate consumers' skin.
* The conventional cotton industry relies on a high level of forced child labor.

Naturally colored cotton has also been grown successfully with organic methods
Since organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, it should contain fewer pesticides than conventional cotton. Pesticides used in the production of conventional cotton include orthophosphates such as phorate and methamidophos, endosulfane (highly toxic to farmers[8], but not very very environmentally persistent) and aldicarb. . Other pesticides persisting in cotton fields in the United States include Trifluralin, Toxaphene and DDT . Although the last two chemicals are no longer used in the United States Dirty_dozen_(Stockholm_Convention) their long breakdown period and difficulty in removal ensures their persistence. Thus even organic cotton fields may contain them since conventional cotton fields can be transitioned to organic fields in 2-3 years.

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