The Truth About Cotton

It is a very breathable fabric that is extremely breathable. The perfect fabric for spring, summer and the hotter months. It's so natural, very simple... or is it?

I conducted some research on cotton crop in Pakistan on the internet and came across some disturbing facts.

Did you realize it is that 25% of the insecticides that are used around the world is used to grow cotton?

To be able to produce enough cotton create a single t-shirt about one-third of a kilogram of chemicals is needed.

The more I read about cotton production and farming, the more worried I got. Truth or fiction? The traditional cotton farming practice is dangerous for our environment as well as our health.

Let's talk about the insecticide component of it. Which is better, to have malaria spread in cotton farming communities and to the surrounding areas due to mosquito breeding in cotton fields, or the use of insecticides to kill mosquitoes, at the cost of introducing poison into our surroundings?

Pests like mosquitoes aren't all there are. Numerous pests can harm the growth of cotton hence huge amounts of chemicals are used to keep cotton plants in good health.

In the Food And Agriculture Organization (United Nations) News, "Globally, more insecticides are used on cotton than on any other crop. In 1995, US$1.8 billion was spent on insecticides for cotton, 14 percent of the total US$12 billion spent on insecticides worldwide. Nearly 70 percent of the world's cotton-cropping area treated with insecticides is in China, India and Pakistan, making them major markets for the insecticide industry."

The problem with insecticides is excessive use can lead to pests to grow and resistant to the poison. This is why more toxic insecticides are developed to keep the pest population in check. Along with killing the pests however, these chemicals can also kill small mammals that take advantage of the insects. With fewer predators around the pests are able reproduce faster, leading to an increased pest issue than before.

But that's not all. Farmers who aren't aware of the dangers of these substances are most likely to be hurt by insecticide use. Alongside killing pests wildlife, wildlife also gets affected by the insecticides that are absorbed in the air, water and soil, which can harm the environment.

Take the pesticide endosulfan, for instance. After the field has been treated with endosulfan, the earthworms rise from the soil and then die. The birds that feed on the earthworms perish. The poison is absorbed into through the food chain. If left unattended, the field which was treated with poison would soon be filled with rotting carcasses of wildlife, showing how deadly the pesticides are.

How can we grow cotton without the dangers associated with conventional cotton farming?

Is it possible for cotton farmers to cultivate cotton while preserving the environment?

That's what Organic farming is all about. It is grown organically without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. In the absence of pesticides, yields will be less as the crops are lost to insects. For fertilizers, ash cattle manure, and palm oil cake can be used to fertilize crops. If chemicals must be used organic farmers aren't allowed to use the banned pesticides or fertilizers. If they do utilize chemicals, they take precautions to stop the chemicals from dispersing from the treated area, thereby minimizing the damages.

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