Recent data of Soil Association confirmed that cotton cropping uses approximately 2,5% of the world’s agricultural land but
- accounts for 16% of global insecticide use, more than any other single crop,
- consumes about 4% of the world’s fertilizers, and that
- the production of one kilogramme of fibre requires an estimated average of 2120 litres of blue water (sum of fresh, ground and surface water).
A huge environmental contribution can therefore be achieved by converting conventional cotton cultivation to organic. Moreover, it will add to
- reducing carbon emissions,
- protecting surface and groundwater quality,
- increasing soil fertility,
- reducing pesticide contamination,
- sustainable pest management through beneficial habitat planting,
- the health and longevity of farmers, labourers and cotton product users, and
- a healthy biodiversity.
The Guardian reported 2014 that a total of 270.000 Indian cotton farmers committed suicide since 1995, pointing out that a contributing factor may be the high price of genetically modified seeds flooding the market, which is piling pressure on poorly paid growers, forcing many into a cycle of unmanageable debt. This led Vandana Shiva (Right Livelihood Award 1993) to protest openly against Monsanto and to create Fibres of Freedom and Navdanya.
The harmful effects of conventional cotton cropping on the environment and on farmers are increasingly taken up by the press with headlines spreading globally, especially in the highly industrialized countries, with the result that there are more and more consumers prepared to buy organic cotton products.