November 14, 2014 5 min read
As the news of the usage of pesticides and insecticides grows, we become more aware that nearly everyone stands a chance of exposure through food, water, and the very act of breathing. What most of us do not know is that we may even dress ourselves in them everyday – that the very act of putting on your favorite outfit could contribute indirectly to the deaths of thousands of individuals each year.
More and more studies performed to test the dangers of pesticides show that the textile industry may hold one of the highest ranking positions as a door to death for a growing portion of the entire world’s population. With this new information, many individuals and corporations in support of human rights and environmental activists see a new need to stress the importance of purchasing clothes and other fabrics made from organically grown cotton. Take a look at the details so you can make a statement stronger than fashion.
A wide range of insects gravitate toward cotton, including cotton bollworms, loopers, army worms, aphids, spider-mites, and a number of other crop-destroying pests. This susceptibility to destruction makes cotton farmers one of the leading groups of pesticide purchasers. The statistics regarding cotton’s dependence on pesticides and insecticides provide chilling details as a basis for the further impact nonorganic cotton has on our whole way of life.
Cotton crops alone use up to one quarter of the world’s pesticide products. This tells us that a great deal of pollution caused by chemically created pesticides can probably be traced back to cotton farming. Another alarming figure shows that less than a percent of all cotton raised and sold on the market was farmed using organic standards for maintaining the crop. This might not sound like such a big deal to you, but once you take a look at how it affects everything from human rights and health to the environment, you might sing a different tune… or pick a different style.
Pesticides formulated with potent, chemical poisons have a measurable effect on our environment, and its inhabitants. The spraying of insecticides via crop-dusting airplanes allows for the pesticidal reach of these substances to get caught and carried in the wind to extensive areas of surrounding land. Not only that, but also from runoff from water trickling across the land and seeping into the ground.
This exposes numerous populations of humans and animals alike to the carcinogenic effects of the chemical compounds used to preserve crop life. It also exposes bodies of water that are extremely important to the way our planet works – like rivers, lakes, oceans, and even our own drinking water that comes from a tap. The amount of wildlife alone that experiences the deadly effects of these toxins comes as a shock. It is documented that pesticidal usage is responsible for the deaths of at least 67 million birds alone.
What does this have to do with cotton? Considering the aforementioned statistics stating cotton’s massive usage of pesticides and insecticides, it is safe to assume that nonorganic cotton definitely attributes to our water ways, soil, and air becoming more and more polluted, making wildlife habitats more uninhabitable for the animal populations. But what do these fashion disasters we call pesticides do to us?
Pesticides affect the human population a number of different ways. From human rights to human health, these poison producers do not seem to take much of our needs into consideration when pushing poisons into the very fabrics we wear. The usage of pesticides actually breaches a number of different lines regarding the treatment of humans – both as consumers and workers for the industry.
Starting from the bottom of the production line, the field workers, often located in developing countries, are exposed to the most concentrated amounts of pesticidal chemicals. The WHO reports that an estimated 20,000 deaths of people in this area of work occur annually from such exposure. Next in line, over 10,000 of our own American farmers die from cancers that manifested from exposure to chemical pesticides and insecticides. The far-reaching arm of pesticidal death grasps not only these demographics of people, but the factory workers as well.
Now, you might ask how it could affect you personally. Well, consider the fact that pesticidal residue can be found in the urine and breast milk of humans who do not even work in the cotton industry. Pesticides, especially organophosphates and carbonates, can cause negative neurodevelopmental effects on children, as millions of children experience some form of exposure to these chemicals by age 5. This is due to the fact that these chemicals prohibit the production and distribution of acetyl cholinesterase – essential for healthy nervous system function.
A list of some of the diseases and conditions that pesticides contribute to include: asthma, autism, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. This list does not include the numerous expanse of cancers. In fact 9 of the preferred pesticides, including those used for cotton crops, are known carcinogenic agents that function to start and further the growth of cancer. The pesticide residue that filters through the air we breath, trickles from our sinks, soaks into our soils, and may remain on the very clothes you wear now can have effects on the human body including skin irritation, rashes, headaches, and dizziness. It can absorb into our skin, thus directly affecting our bodies.
Even though only about 1% of cotton produced is raised and harvested organically, we can start the wheels of change turning by supporting organic cotton farmers. If you are as tired of pesticidal pollution as we are, then supporting the organic growth of cotton is a great place to start. Think about your bed sheets, your t-shirts, your jeans, and nearly every other article of clothing you keep in your closet. They are fabricated in poison.
Since cotton is one of the most important, widely grown crops and uses more pesticide than any other crop grown, supporting the organic growth of cotton is a great place to start. If more people begin the fashion trend of wearing products that do not poison us, then imagine how much pesticide abuse we can cut out of the world as a whole. Think of all the farmers, field workers, and factory workers whose health gets undermined. Think of the millions of children suffering from neurological conditions caused by pesticides. Think of the thousands of cancer cases, and the way these chemicals jeopardize wildlife.
Making a change can start with a simple move of support. Show your support of organically grown cotton by leaving a comment, or sharing this article on social media – and articles like it. Keep speaking out about the dangers of chemical pesticides. The change starts with the individual. The individual is you.
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