By: Edward Menezes
What is organic cotton?
Cotton grown without the use of any synthetic chemicals i.e., plant growth regulators, defoliants and fertilizers is considered 'organic' cotton.
Organic cotton production means not only the absence of inorganic synthetic fertilizers and pesticides but it involves very careful planning of the whole farming system. In general, organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have low impact on the environment with the organic production systems replenishing and maintaining soil fertility reducing of the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and building a biologically diverse agricultural system.
Organic cotton production uses "natural' chemicals like sulfur dust and Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis additive, and not insect-resistant biotech cotton) and other biological control agents in pest management and organic acid-based foliar sprays, such as citric acid and nitrogen and zinc sulfate in harvest preparation.
Biotech cottons, containing Bt or other artificially introduced genes, are not allowed to be used for the production of organic cotton - the general reason being that the technique is currently considered synthetic gene manipulation, not natural.
Why Organic Cotton?
Cotton evokes images of white, fluffy purity and many people think of cotton being a natural, pure fabric. Cotton is a wonderfully versatile and globally important fiber that is used for a vast variety of fiber and food products, making it one of the most widely traded commodities on earth. Versatility, softness, breath-ability, absorbency, year-round comfort, performance, and durability are just a few of the qualities that have earned cotton its popular status.
Due to its unique fiber structure which can absorb up to 2.7 times its own weight in water, cotton breathes and helps remove body moisture by absorbing it and wicking it away from the skin.
Not only is cotton the most popular and best selling fabric in the world, due to its huge commercial value, cotton also represents an essential component of foreign exchange earnings for more than fifty countries.
The value and reach of cotton extends far past the fashion runway.
So we put cotton next to our skin because it breathes, absorbs and offers comfort. Cotton also has a reputation for being pure, the best fabric for a children wear also.
However, most cotton goods sold today don't deserve that natural reputation. During cotton production and processing, lots of unnatural and highly hazardous chemicals are used.
Cotton is one of the most intensively sprayed field crops in the world - accounting for more than 10 percent of pesticide use and nearly 23 percent of agricultural insecticide sales worldwide. According to a Pesticide Action Network statistic, it takes about one fourth of a pound of chemicals just to make one cotton t-shirt, and two-thirds of a pound to make a pair of jeans.
According to Doug Murray, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Colorado State University " The most hazardous available pesticides are used on cotton, of the available today," during his study on pesticide use on cotton overseas.