Organic Cotton – Now I know what it is!

What is “organic cotton?”
http://www.djc.com/blogs/BuildingGreen/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/cotton-plant.jpgOrganic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming.

Ecological Footprint
Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Other environmental consequences of the elevated use of chemicals in the non organic cotton growing methods consist of:

* High levels of agrochemicals are used in the production of non-organic, conventional cotton. Cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts in total for 16% of the world’s pesticides.
* Chemicals used in the processing of cotton pollute the air and surface waters.
* Residual chemicals may irritate consumers’ skin.
* Decreased biodiversity and shifting equilibrium of ecosystems due to the use of pesticides.

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Advantages
Cotton growers who make the transition to biologically based growing practices expect to not only offer a healthier and cleaner product, but to also benefit the planet. Some of the contributions to the different ecosystems include:

* Protecting surface and groundwater quality (eliminating contaminants in surface runoff)
* Reduced risk insect and disease control by replacing insecticide with the manipulation of ecosystems
* Long-term prevention of pests through beneficial habitat planting.
* Conservation of biodiversity
* Eliminate the use of toxic chemicals used in cotton
* Organically grown crops also yield soils with higher organic matter content, thicker topsoil depth, higher polysaccharide content, and lower modulus of rupture; therefore reducing considerably soil erosion.

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