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Eco-friendly fashion

Conventional cotton:production and pesticides

Cotton, the most widely used textile in the world, is grown in over 60 countries and covers almost 5% of all land cultivated. However, as competition grows and people expect to buy clothes for less money, cotton farming has become a riskier business.

As a result, farmers have been using huge amounts of pesticides to protect their crops. A quarter of all pesticides are used on cotton - in the South, this figure rises to half. And because cotton isnt eaten, many of the pesticides that farmers use are particularly toxic.

This has caused a range of environmental and health problems:

  • the natural insect population in cotton areas has been greatly reduced
  • pesticides are washed into rivers and taken into drinking supplies
  • high levels of pesticides build up in the soil, making food that is later grown there bad for us
  • empty pesticide containers are dumped, posing a health hazard
  • cattle fed on cotton leaves, or oil cake made from cotton seeds, can be poisoned and even die.

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    Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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