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SEEP Panel to release study of pesticide use in cotton
Aug '10
The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Expert Panel on Social, Environmental and Economic Performance of Cotton Production (SEEP) has released a study of pesticide use in cotton in Australia, Brazil, India, Turkey and the USA.

SEEP has also prepared an Interpretive Summary of the Study and four separate reports on the factors influencing the use of pesticides in cotton in Australia, Brazil, India and the U.S.A. The Study does not include herbicides because of data limitations, but the report covers the use of acaricides, fungicides, inorganic pesticides, insecticides, molluscicides and nematicides.

The research group on Environmental Risk Assessment of Alterra, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, conducted the Study under contract to SEEP. This study received financial support from the ICAC and from the FAO Global IPM Facility under project GCP/INT/999/SWI on Pest and Pesticide Management Policy Development. SEEP developed the study proposal and provided scientific consultation and overall supervision of the report. The Interpretive Summary of the Study and the country reports were completed by SEEP.

The Chairman of SEEP will report to the ICAC during the First Open Session of the 69th Plenary Meeting on September 21, 2010 in Lubbock, Texas, USA. A full discussion of the Study and the recommendations developed by SEEP will occur at that time.

Pesticide Use

Pesticide use in cotton is a critical concern whenever the theme of sustainability of cotton cultivation is discussed. In the 1990s, the use of crop protection chemicals on cotton peaked. According to data provided by Cropnosis, a private company in the UK, cotton's share by value of global pesticide consumption declined from 11% in 1988 to 6.8% (US$3 billion) in 2008. Similarly, the share of world insecticide use (insecticides are a subset of all pesticides) on cotton declined from 19% in 2000 to 15.7% in 2008.

An important gap that SEEP identified is the lack of current country-specific pesticide use data to accurately measure the impact of changes occurring in plant protection practices.

The Study focuses on trends in the use of pesticides applied in cotton along with an assessment of the hazards of those pesticides.

The Study does not look into pesticide use efficiency. It provides figures in terms of grams of active ingredient (a.i.) used to produce a kilogram of lint cotton in the five countries. However, these figures do not take into account the toxicity of the pesticides used nor do they distinguish between low and high dosage formulations. The scope of the study, data sources and methods of analysis are described in full in the Study.

A new indicator developed by the Alterra research group, called environmental toxic load (ETL), was applied to assess environmental hazards.

Major Findings:

Analysis of the most recent information available for each country resulted in the following figures for pesticide use on cotton:

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