Conventional cotton (99% of all cotton grown and in the market) is sprayed with enough pesticides and insecticides to cause concern. More chemical pesticides are used on cotton than any other crop, deeming it “the dirtiest crop on the planet.” 60% of conventional cotton is used for clothing and 35% is used for home furnishings – cotton touches our lives constantly on a daily basis. What exactly do we have to be fearful of? Impaired memory, lack of communication between nerve cells, severe depression, paralysis, disruption of our immune systems, and death. “Up to 8,000 chemicals can be used in the production and processing of textiles – for dyeing, treating, printing, and finishing,” (theworldcounts.com). If cotton is so deadly, why aren’t we seeing it’s effects? Perhaps you are without realizing it, however, the more obvious damage is being done to those who directly interact with the manufacturing process or live around those areas. Children especially are at risk if they play near cotton fields or help with the manufacturing process in any way, due to their body size and developing immune system. One million Egyptian children (ages 7-12) work with cotton pest management. In Iran, pesticide poisoning was the leading cause of child deaths. Cotton pesticides also contaminate rivers worldwide, including ours in the U.S. According to theworldcounts.com, our global community has spent $399,000,000+ solely on cotton pesticides this year.
The three worst pesticides used very commonly on cotton, provided by the Environmental Justice Foundation, are: aldicarb, monocrotophos, and deltamethrin. These nerve agents in pure form can kill an adult with one drop to the skin.
The category of conventional cotton includes genetically modified and hybrid seeds which are also problematic because they require extra water and pesticides; nor do they produce viable seeds of their own, requiring farmers to purchase new seeds each year. In the grander scheme of the ecosystem, cotton seeds are also used to feed livestock, make cottonseed oil, and ground into natural fertilizer, which can only be done with the organic seed variety.
Tomorrow’s post will discuss organic cotton, and other natural fibers that are great alternatives to conventional cotton!