Considerations Close To Our Heart
(This research was from April 2011, so please look up current figures.)
Consider the Farm Workers
“An estimated 1 million to 5 million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in 20,000 reported deaths among agricultural workers and at least 1 million requiring hospitalisation.” (Environmental Justice Foundation)
These pesticides have not only been linked to cancer, there have been traces found in the milk of animals and nursing mothers. In India alone the life expectancy of a conventional cotton farmer is 35 years. Some common side effects include: headaches, respiratory problems, stomach upsets, vomiting, drowsiness, insomnia, confusion, impaired memory and concentration. The chronic effects of long-term exposure to the cotton pesticides can include: seizures, behavioural changes, hormonal imbalances, birth defects, infertility, sterility, DNA mutations and cancer appearing later in life or even in the next generation and sooner or later death.
Consider the ‘Developing World’
Ninety-nine percent of the world’s cotton farmers live in developing countries where low levels of safety awareness, lack of access to protective gear, illiteracy, poor labelling of pesticides, inadequate safeguards, and chronic poverty each increase the potential damage from cotton pesticides to low income communities. While the bulk of global cotton production occurs in developing countries, the majority of cotton products are sold to developed countries.
Consider How We Dispose of the Chemicals?
Stockpiles or obsolete or unwanted chemicals and pesticides are accumulating in many countries. These would require vast sums of money to dispose of in a safe manner.
“About 70,000 different chemicals are currently available in the markets around the world. Besides, some 1500 new chemicals are introduced every year. This can pose a major challenge to regulators charged with monitoring and managing these potentially dangerous substances. There is growing concern over the hazards posed by these chemicals as many pesticides that have been banned or severely restricted in industrialized countries are still marketed and used in developing countries. These are often sold to farmers who lack the equipment and knowledge to use them safely, resulting in large numbers of health problems and even deaths.” (Surinder Sud/New Delhi March 29, 2007 “Cotton pesticide on trade watch-list”)
Consider Our Soil and Water Systems
What will become of the water we drink and bathe in?
Heavy chemical use promotes soil erosion and unhealthy ecosystems.
“It was thought at one time that soil acted as a protective filter that stopped pesticides from reaching ground water. Studies have now shown that this is not the case. Pesticides can reach water-bearing aquifers below ground from applications onto crop fields, contaminated surface water, accidental spills and leaks, improper disposal, and even through injection waste material into wells.”
Did you know that whatever flows into the storm drain flows untreated into our creeks and bays?
“Billions of pounds of nitrogen synthetic fertilizer are used on cotton crops resulting in runoff that can create aquatic “dead zones” in waterways. Dead zones are oxygen-depleted areas lacking sea life, and a third of the world’s 146 oceanic dead zones are off of U.S. shores. According to the United Nations in the Gulf of Mexico, one dead zone covers 7,000 square miles.
Non-organically (conventionally) grown cotton can cause irreparable damage to the natural environment and to farm workers, and may contaminate drinking water. Organic farming methods actually help regenerate soil that has been damaged by overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Consider the Air, Birds and Animals
These chemicals are just as toxic to wildlife as they are to humans.
When the chemicals are dispersed through the air, “it has been estimated that pesticides unintentionally kill at least 67 million birds in the U. S. each year and it is likely they kill many more.” (PAN-Pesticides Action Network)
Consider Our Food Chain
In some areas as much as 65% of the cotton harvest, by weight can enter the food chain in the form of cottonseed oil (which has been noted to account for 8% of the world’s vegetable oil consumption) and is used widely in processed foods, and as cottonseed feed for livestock/cows. The pesticide residues from these cottonseeds concentrate in the tissues of these animals and are passed on to consumers in meat and dairy products.
(See the following link for more information:
If this wasn’t enough, in recent years there has been the introduction to a new Bt genetically modified cotton, which has added other negative attributes.
(See the following link for more information: http://greenlivingqa.com/content/genetically-modified-gmo-cotton)
Consider Our Health and the Health of Our Family:
Most chemicals applied during growing, processing and ongoing production are permanently in the fabrics, and many people have complained that these chemicals have affected not only their sleep, but their health. Just ONE example is Formaldehyde resin finishes, which are used in the production of many sheets (although manufacturers are not legally required to tell us that the fabric has been treated with formaldehyde.) Be aware if the label reads: ‘no-iron’, ‘wrinkle-free’ or ‘water-proof’ to name a few, these are some of the alternative clues likely to have used formaldehyde. During the manufacturing process formaldehyde is applied in such a way that it becomes a permanent part of the fiber and continues to release fumes for the life of the fabric. Formaldehyde is a known irritant and suspected carcinogen. Even if not stated on the label virtually all polyester/cotton blends have formaldehyde finish.