Cutting through eco-confusion: Organic Cotton Campaign

World’s first Global Organic Cotton Campaign launches at Hong Kong Textiles Conference 

Major players in the international textiles industry were challenged yesterday to sign up to organic – the most reliable and trustworthy standard of sustainable textiles production.

Speaking at the Sustainable Textiles Conference in Hong Kong, Lord Peter Melchett – Policy Director of the UK’s Soil Association – asked textile industry leaders: “Have you cottoned on yet?” Echoing the slogan of the campaign and website launched yesterday, Lord Melchett called on the industry to put a halt to the environmental damage and threats to cotton farmers’ livelihoods caused by global cotton farming and processing. Up to 80% of world cotton production currently comes from GM crops (with 95% of the seed in India controlled by one company: Monsanto).

At the same time, worldwide demand for organic cotton is set to grow by at least 10% in 2011-2012. But some brands are failing to commit to organic standards, opting instead for easier, lower-level schemes or worse – nothing at all. Without commitment from brands, it is farmers who bear the social, environmental and economic risks associated with cotton production: 

“Organic cotton is proven to deliver positive benefits for people and the environment. When it comes to making sustainability claims you can trust, nothing beats it.” Lord Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association

The campaign is launched by the Soil Association and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the leading standard for organic textile processing. The campaign asks consumers, NGOs and brands to “cotton on” to organic, by signing up on the new micro-site, uniting supporters of sustainable cotton across the globe.                                            

The campaign is detailed in a briefing paper released yesterday, which spells out the 5 unique benefits of organic production:

1. Give control to farmers, not GM companies
Organic farmers don't have their choices controlled by GM companies

2. Eliminate hazardous synthetic pesticides
Organic cotton doesn’t use dangerous pesticides, protecting farmers’ lives and the environment

3. Help farmers feed their families
Organic cotton enables farmers to grow other crops for food and income

4. Save precious water
Organic cotton uses less water, preserving a scarce and precious resource for the future

5. Combat climate change
Organic cotton farming uses less energy and healthy organic soils store more CO2

To download the briefing paper, visit

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