Monday, April 23, 2007

Cotton: World's Most Toxic Crop

[Nairobi, Kenya]
THEY SAY humans are the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Perhaps so. What's shocking, though, is how the majority of the world's population allow certain toxic industries to flourish. I'm talking about industries that pollute our fragile environment every day -- especially when greener alternatives exist. You need an example? Cotton farming. Hemp could replace this crop while making our world a cleaner, more livable place over night.

I will leave you with this article (see Google cache) below, courtesy of the Washington Free Press, which is a "bi-monthly newspaper from Seattle highlighting labor and environmental issues. Emphasis on local issues, with some national and world-wide news." It's based in the beautiful state of Washington (USA.), which is located in the Pacific NorthWest -- a region with tons of avid green citizens who love the outdoors. Cities such as Portland, Beaverton, Vancouver, Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma are located here. By the way, don't forget to take a peek at an earlier Go Africa go! blog post I wrote last month in Tanzania: Hemp Farming in Africa: A Billion Dollar Industry? After you read it, prepare to be very angry. You'll also realize that Africa could be raking in billions of dollars simply by growing hemp.

Dude, why're you wearing that shirt?

Cotton: World's Most Toxic Crop
by Organic Consumers' Association
Cotton is the most toxic crop on the planet. While only three percent of the world's farming acreage is cotton, these crops are sprayed with up to 25 percent of the world's pesticides and herbicides, including some of the most toxic ones, such as aldicarb. And of course cotton is present in many other consumer products besides garments--food products, tampons, bandages, baby diapers, mattresses, bed linen, etc.

According to, "the simple act of growing and harvesting the one pound of cotton fiber needed to make a T-shirt takes an enormous toll on the air, water, and soil, not to mention the health of people in cotton growing areas. The cotton grown for just one T-shirt requires a third of a pound of agricultural chemicals."

Moreover, some 60 percent of a cotton crop, by weight, enters the food chain in the form of cottonseed oil which is used widely in processed foods, and as cottonseed feed for cows, ending up in meat and dairy products. The pesticide residues from these cottonseeds concentrate in the fatty tissues of these animals, and in turn are passed on in meat and dairy products to consumers.

Genetically engineered (GE) cotton is another problem. Playing on concerns about pesticides, Monsanto has pushed GE cottonseeds onto the market in more than a half-dozen countries as the "green alternative" for cotton growers. In terms of human health hazards, herbicide-resistant GE cotton plants--and their oil and seed derivatives--contain foreign proteins, bacteria, viral promoters, and antibiotic resistant genes--food ingredients that humans have never eaten before. These GE plants and their derivatives are unlabeled and untested for hazards to human health and the environment. Over ten million acres of genetically engineered cotton are now being grown across the US. These cotton plants are gene-spliced so that the cotton plant emits its own pesticide, or else the plant is genetically engineered to be able to survive mega-doses of powerful pesticides.

Biotech cotton is a mortal threat to organic cotton farming, the real "no pesticide" alternative. This threat is two-fold. First of all, it is a source of genetic pollution (like GE corn or canola), spreading its altered DNA. Even worse, it is slowly but steadily building up resistance among cotton pests, creating the preconditions for cotton superpests to arise.

Don't forget to post a comment. Tell us what you think.


Anonymous said...

This post is timely Max. I did not know how bad cotton farming was. Hemp is a much better solution aftr reading your other post. Keep on spreading the good word.

Sanjay in Mumbai

Anonymous said...

Hey Max,
Wow,you know I dont think so many people realize that cotton is bad.Maybe you should like write a book or somethin.I think people should know bout all that stuff!
Madge,Nairobi Kenya