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Better Cotton Alliance Working to Reduce Pesticides World-Wide

Although marketed as true, clean comfort, the truth is that cotton is one of the world’s dirtiest crops, due to its heavy use of insecticides- the most dangerous form of pesticide to human and animal health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 84 million pounds of pesticides were applied to the nation’s 14.4 million acres of cotton in the year 2000, and more than two billion pounds of fertilizers were spread on those same fields. Seven of the 15 pesticides commonly used on cotton in the United States are listed as “possible,” “likely,” “probable” or “known” human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But the U.S. isn’t a major producer of cotton. Most of the crop is grown in developing countries, where safety standards are often non-existent. According to Pesticide Action Network of North America, a 1997 Danish television documentary showed methyl parathion being sprayed on cotton fields in Nicaragua and Guatemala while children played in and beside the fields. In African and middle eastern countries, it’s not unusual to find children spraying chemicals barefoot on farm fields alongside their parents. In Pakistan, where DDT is still available on the black market, many still believe that more is better when it comes to pesticide application.

In an article written by Sally Williams for The Telegraph, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a small, not-for-profit membership association based in Geneva, is working to change that. Partnering with big names like Ikea, Gap, and Adidas, BCI is introducing more efficient and eco-friendly ways of growing cotton like using bitter melon and digging irrigation ditches instead of flooding farmlands- the watering method of choice, which wastes inordinate amounts of water.

Pakistan, in particular, has an appalling environmental record, so BCI has paid particular time focusing efforts there. The pilot project also includes locations in Brazil, India, and Mali.

Read more of The Telegraph article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/sally-williams/8592326/How-Pakistans-farmers-are-cleaning-up-cotton.html

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