Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Quarter Of World's Insecticide

You might not have realized how close to chemical pesticides you are than you think.

According to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), conventionally grown cotton accounts for up to 25 percent of the world's insecticide use (though cotton crop accounts for only about 3 percent of world's crop). So we know conventional cotton T-shirts that we are wearing are not at all pure cotton, no matter how "natural" the tag says the cotton is.

A new study also reveals that children whose mothers are exposed to certain pesticides are at a higher risk for developing Autism Spectrum Disorders (refer to link). Not only are pesticides harmful to mothers and children, they are also damaging the health of conventional cotton farmers who are exposed to these pesticides day in day out.

Ironically, the use of pesticides not only does not make the cotton crop better, they actually make the farmers poorer too.

The purchase of chemical fertilizers and pesticides constitute a big part of production cost for cotton farmers. Constant use of pesticides however make the pests more resistant and thus farmers often end up running in debts to buy more expensive fertilizers.

So why aren't these cotton farmers turning to organic cotton farming, you may ask? Well, for one, organic cotton farming is not as easy as it looks. Farmers probably have to make their own manure and compost and tend to weeding their plots more frequently.

And the returns are little in the short run. Many cotton farmers are still enticed by higher yield genetically modified (GM) crop.

The only solution is have more and more consumers recognize the cost benefit of organically grown cotton and show support, so that more conventional cotton farmers can be convinced of its benefits and convert to organic farming.