Wear Organic Newsletter - March 2007
the irresistible rise of organic cotton, which is now
finding its way to the mass market, many cotton farmers
from the developing world continue to suffer form pesticide
poisoning. New evidence is also suggesting that cotton
pesticides may be a greater threat to coral reefs than
we previously suspected. The fight to put sustainability
back into cotton production continues...
New report exposes the human health and environmental
cost of cotton pesticides
2. New book demonstrates socio-economic benefits
of organic cotton in developing countries
3. Cotton pesticides may threaten Australia's
Great Barrier Reef
4. Acclaimed guide My Sustainable T-Shirt
now available in hard copies
5. The worst cotton insecticide faces international
6. New magazine dedicated to sustainability
in textile: Ecotextile News
New report exposes the human health and environmental
cost of cotton pesticides
Pesticide Action Network UK has persistently
denounced the impacts of pesticide usage on cotton since
1991. At the time, between 2 and 3 billion dollars was
spent on cotton pesticides worldwide. Of more than 300
million kilograms of pesticides used in the developing
world every year - half was used on cotton.
years of campaigning by PAN UK and others have
produced mixed results. On the positive side, alternatives
to chemical-intensive cotton production have been successfully
developed. IPM schemes around the world have shown that
pesticide usage can easily be halved while increasing
yields. The irresistible rise of organic cotton, which
is now finding its way to the mass market, proves that
cotton can - and should - be produced sustainably, without
the use of pesticides.
2 billion dollars worth of chemicals are still sprayed
on the world's cotton crop every year, almost half of
which is toxic enough to be classified as hazardous
by the World Health Organisation. The associated health
and environmental costs are immense. This new report
Deadly Chemicals in Cotton
reveals that vomiting, paralysis, incontinence, coma,
seizures and death are some of the many side effects
still suffered by farmers and children in the developing
world who are routinely exposed to cotton pesticides,
many of which are banned or restricted in use in the
many recommendations, the report calls for a phase out
of the most toxic pesticides in cotton production, and
increased support for more sustainable alternatives,
including IPM or organic cotton.
Chemicals in Cotton is produced by the
Environmental Justice Foundation,
in collaboration with PAN UK.
le résumé exécutif en Français
New book demonstrates the socio-economic benefits of
organic cotton in developing countries
Frank Eyhorn's spent 3 years studying the impact of
organic cotton on the lives of farming communities in
the renowned Mikaal bioRe Project in Central India.
This led to the publication in late 2005 by the Research
Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) of a ground
breaking report, the first of its kind, which was able
to give a credible and true picture of the benefits
of organic cotton farming.
his new book Organic farming
for sustainable livelihoods in developing countries?
The case of cotton in India, Dr Eyhorn
draws on his 3 years of research, and further integrates
lessons learnt in other projects in Asia and Africa,
in order to demonstrate how organic cotton provides
benefits not only for the environment and human health,
but also for the livelihoods of farmers.
book assesses the potential and the constraints of organic
farming for improving rural livelihoods. It is presently
the most in-depth and comprehensive work on the socio-economic
impact of organic cotton farming in developing countries.
Sompal, former Chairman of the National Commission for
Farmers and Minister of State for Agriculture and Water
Resources in India, said:
Frank Eyhorn's research on organic cotton grown in the
central state of India is a pioneering work. It paves
the way for the possibility of chemical-free, environment
and health-friendly sustainable farming, involving lower
costs and yielding higher returns to the farmers. The
model is capable of being replicated globally."
224 pages, 17 x 24 cm, illustrated, paperback.
can order the book from the editor (VDF, Zurich) using
Cotton pesticides may threaten Australia's Great Barrier
A new study in the journal of Marine Ecology Progress
revealed last month that coral larvae are highly susceptible
to very low concentrations of pesticides. The study
shows that pesticide pollution, even at concentrations
so low as to be practically undetectable, inhibit the
development of the early stages of the corals' life.
This serious threat may have been underestimated in
the past as prior studies had focused only on later
stages of corals' life.
The pesticides tested by the authors include chlorpyrifos,
and permethrin, which are all
widely used in cotton production around the
world, including on Australia's intensive cotton farms.
Endosulfan in particular, the second most widely used
cotton insecticide in the world, is currently under
increasing scrutiny, and is the focus of an international
PAN campaign demanding its phasing out (see 5).
contaminated by pesticides are often washed away from
agricultural areas by storms and travel through river
systems. Recent NASA satellite images of Australia's
Great Barrier Reef showed for the first time that these
sediments can travel over 135km offshore and reach the
Therefore a combination of evidence is emerging showing
agriculture pose a major threat to corals reefs.
While some commentators argue that in the case of Australia
the threat mainly comes from sugar cane growers, cotton
is also produced in the relevant catchments areas, using
some of the pesticides incriminated in the study.
Coral reefs are home to some of the world's most extraordinary
biodiversity. It is estimated that at the current rate
of destruction, 70% of the world's coral reefs will
have disappeared within 50 years. While changes in water
temperature due to global warming is believed to be
the major source of concern, we can no longer ignore
the major threat posed by pesticides.
Study: Markey KL, Baird AH, Humphrey C, Negri
A (2007) Insecticides and a fungicide affect multiple
coral life stages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 330: 127-137.
Acclaimed guide My Sustainable T-Shirt now available
in hard copies
a valuable resource!", "It
is such a good and important document" are
some of the feed back we were pleased to receive from
some readers. Our new guide to organic, fair trade,
and other standards and labels for cotton textile
was launched online last month, and has already been
downloaded by visitors from 41 countries. It is now
available to order as a hard
copy from PAN
you are a retailer of organic or fair trade products,
or an organisation promoting sustainable cotton or ethical
fashion, and wish to help us distribute free guides
to your customers or visitors, please do not hesitate
to contact us. My sustainable
T-shirt aims to explain, in plain English,
what the various labels for textile exactly mean, and
how we can put sustainability back into cotton production.
here to order
The worst cotton insecticide faces international review
international conventions have been adopted in order
to address the severe health and environmental impacts
of pesticides. As result, the use of the most damaging
pesticides is progressively prohibited or severely restricted.
One of these conventions is the Rotterdam Convention
on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure, which aims
to help national governments make informed decisions
about the restriction of hazardous pesticides.
many very hazardous pesticides are still overlooked
by international conventions. The
International Pesticide Action Network campaigns
to ensure the most problematic pesticides, those which
have the worse impact on farmer's health and the environment,
are no longer overlooked. Our
current campaign focuses on one insecticide in particular:
endosulfan. The Rotterdam Convention Chemical
Review Committee will meet in Rome next week, and
will discuss the fate of endosulfan. PAN will be there,
and our African members will testify about the devastation
endosulfan brings to cotton fields, as exposed in our
recent report Living
is the second most widely used insecticide in cotton
It is highly toxic and has poisoned numerous people,
livestock, and wildlife around the world. It caused
many deaths among cotton farmers and their families
in West Africa. It is also persistent in the environment,
and remains a danger for a long time.
August, 24, 1999, in
the village of Maregourou in Benin,
three boys between the ages of 12 to 14 went to
weed the cotton field of their father. The cotton
crop was cultivated together with maize. The day
before, the father had sprayed the field with
endosulfan and the boys did not know. After the
work they took a few maize cobs to eat and 15
minutes later started vomiting. They were taken
to the hospital of Bembereke where one boy of
12 died. The other two survived. (Pesticide
many developing countries, children of cotton
farmers live near cotton fields. Exposure to pesticides
is very difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.
7 August 2000, Issaka,
from the village of Biro in Benin, who
had treated his cotton field with endosulfan, returned
to the house and left his work clothes on the roof
out of reach of his four children, aged six to eight.
During the night it rained and the water passed
through his clothes, dripping into domestic vessels.
The next morning their parents took water from these
vessels for the children to drink and wash. Some
minutes later, they began to have headaches, nausea
and convulsions. They were taken urgently to the
health centre, where they were treated with Diazepam
and oxygen. But all four children died within 20
Organic cotton production prevents exposing more children
to the dangers of all pesticides. The Fairtrade Labelling
Organisation has already taken a positive step by choosing
to ban the use of endoslfan. However endosulfan is still
distributed to millions of conventional cotton farmers
around the world.
New magazine dedicated to sustainability in textile:
true to say that from the 19th Century Industrial Revolution
in England, until the present day, the global textiles
and clothing industries have been associated with pollution,
poor working conditions and low labour rates. The editors
of new magazine Ecotextile
News say that now, this is all about to change.
Changes in regulations and increasing consumers' concerns
about environmental and ethical performance of the textile
industry are about to have a huge impact
on how the textiles and apparel industries operate going
forward. Ecotextile News is a new business-to-business
magazine, dedicated to inform retailers, brands and
manufacturers about new ethical and sustainable products,
processes and systems. It aims to provides a platform
to allow readers to capitalise on these new trends.
The first issue of Ecotextile News was launched last
month, and included, among many topics, a
series of articles about organic cotton.
This month, the magazine will feature ethical
sourcing (certification, labelling, etc...)
as well as recycled fibres
The editors said: " This exciting new magazine
will allow forward-thinking fibre growers, yarn spinners,
textile manufacturers, nonwovens companies, garment
suppliers and apparel retail executives to keep their
fingers on the pulse of sustainability and discover
how it will influence their businesses going forward".
10% of the magazine's subscription revenues will be
donated to an innovative sustainable project each year.
Ecotextile News is a publication of Mowbray Communications
Action Network UK
56-64 Leonard Street
+44 (0)207 065 0905
UK cotton project is supported by:
Hivos - Oxfam Novib Biodiversity Fund
The J.A. Clark Charitable Trust
The JJ Charitable Trust