September 16, 2009 – Q: We wear a lot of cotton clothing, and someone told us that cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides while it is growing. Is this true and can the cotton clothing hold the pesticides? Is there organic cotton?
A: According to a 2007 report on deadly chemicals in cotton, compiled by the Environmental Justice Foundation and Pesticide Action Network, cotton is the world’s most important nonfood agricultural commodity, yet it accounts for 16 percent of global insecticide releases – more than any other single crop.
Many of the pesticides used on cotton have been implicated in human cancer, water contamination, soil degradations and the killing off of various animals. In 1991, a train loaded with Metan sodium, which is used as a soil sterilant before planting cotton, derailed and spilled its contents into the Sacramento River, resulting in the death of every living organism in the river for 40 miles. A few years later heavy rains washed the chemical Endosulfan from cotton fields and into Big Nance Creek in Alabama and killed almost a quarter of a million fish.
On the other hand, there is a product that is much more efficient and much more valuable than cotton. That product is industrial hemp: A variety of Cannabis sativa, a tall annual herb of the mulberry family, native to Asia. Industrial hemp is not marijuana (Cannabis indica), as they are two different species of plants.
Some folks would like us to believe that growing any hemp is comparable to growing marijuana. This is nonsense.
Switching to hemp instead of cotton would result in the use of less pesticide than is currently being applied to our environment. Cotton growing is probably the largest polluter on the planet in terms of releasing pesticides into our environment. The chemicals not only target insects, but go into the groundwater and affect nontarget organisms as well, including humans. Hemp, on the other hand, has long been considered a weed, but it does not require pesticides to grow.
Another option is organically grown cotton. No pesticides, fertilizers or defoliants are used in growing organic cotton. Organic cotton can also be bred in different colors to eliminate the need for dye. It comes in a range of earth tones, such as rust, cream, browns and greens.
Chemically dependent cotton is no longer necessary, and we should seriously look into increasing our yield of organic cotton and using industrial hemp. By Richard Fagerlund. Source.