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Caught up in Cotton

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Yesterday, I was walking out of my house and realized my entire outfit was made out of cotton. It got me thinking about the fact that it wasn’t made out of organic cotton, but conventional cotton. I thought I would do a little bit of research as to why one would choose organic instead. Here’s what I found…

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  • ·Approximately14.1% of global insecticide sales in 2009 were used to grow cotton.
  • ·Worldwide, annual cotton pesticide sales increased approximately 18.5% in the decade between 1999 -2009, from $2.564 billion to $3.038 billion.
  • ·Of the $3.038 billion, 28% was for herbicide sales, 58% for insecticides, 3.5% for fungicides, and 10% for “other” pesticides such as defoliants.
  • ·In 2008, global cotton production used almost 7% of all pesticides (including defoliants, herbicides, and insecticides), 5% of the world’s herbicides, and 16% of the world’s insecticides in terms of sales.
  • ·In the United States, 2009 sales of pesticides for use on domestic cotton amounted to $687 million, representing 23% of total global cotton pesticide use.
  • ·On average, 90% of U.S. cotton is genetically engineered.
  • ·Eight of the top 10 insecticides most commonly used on U.S. cotton in 2010 are classified as moderately to highly acutely hazardous by the World Health Organization.
  • ·Approximately 45 million pounds of pesticides were used on approximately 11 million acres of cotton planted in the United States in 2010.
  • ·The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2010 in the United States as “possible,” “likely,” “probable,” or “known” human carcinogens.
  • ·The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2010 in the United States as “possible,” “likely,” “probable,” or “known” human carcinogens.
  • ·Eight of the top 10 insecticides most commonly used on U.S. cotton in 2010 are classified as moderately to highly acutely hazardous by the World Health Organization.
  • ·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).
  • ·It takes roughly one-third of a pound of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt.

Information provided by Organic Trade Association, http://www.ota.com

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