Category Archives: Cotton and Pesticide Use

Availability Cascade, Information Cascade and Reputation Cascade: The Relevance of Cascades to Cotton

Summary: An “availability cascade” is a self-reinforcing process of belief formation, in which repetition of a belief triggers a chain reaction of additional repetition. Merely because the belief is repeated, it becomes widely accepted. In other words, a belief becomes irresistible simply as a result of its repetition.

Cotton is suffering from an availability cascade of demonizing allegations that have become so thoroughly interwoven into the consciousness of retailers, organic cotton advocates and environmental and social activists that objective information, no matter how powerful, contrary data, no matter how well researched, and historical perspective, no matter how valid, are automatically rejected as invalid, unacceptable and illegitimate.

Examples of availability cascades of negative information about cotton include the Aral Sea, pesticide use and water consumption.

13b. Availabilty Cascade

Uzbekistan and Cotton Production

Uzbekistan and Cotton Production
Cotton production in Uzbekistan is associated with the destruction of the Aral Sea, with child and forced labor, with pesticide poisoning and with autocratic government. It seems as if no allegation is too evil that someone hasn’t tied it to the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. As one example, an NGO recently asserted that the Uzbekistan government expanded the cotton industry after independence in the early 1990s and developed a massive irrigation system and diverted water destined for the Aral Sea (Innovation Forum Special Report, a Management briefing on Sustainable and ethical cotton sourcing, sponsored by CottonConnect). “Vast monoculture farms growing only cotton were established, with huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides ….” Continue reading

Response to Neil Young, Protect Earth Campaign

 

Dear Mr. Young,

 

Regarding your vow to Protect Earth via advocacy of organic cotton,

 

Based on the latest information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), world cotton production accounted for 2.6% of world arable land in 2011, the latest data available. Your assertion that cotton accounts for almost 5% of earth’s arable land is in error by a factor of two, and this is actually one of the more benign and least inaccurate messages about cotton on your web site. Continue reading

Chemical Use In Cotton, Perspective Needed

Chemical Use in Cotton, Perspective Needed

The Associated Press reported on March 28, 2014:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Fire officials say an explosion involving a tank of nitric acid has injured nine workers at a Rolls-Royce plant near the Indianapolis International Airport.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_ROLLS_ROYCE_CHEMICAL_SPILL?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

 

This is one of many news stories that appear daily around the world regarding accidents involving chemicals. Chemicals used in industries are toxic. Workers are exposed. Injury, and even death, happens.

Cotton is often demonized because of injuries and deaths that occur from unsafe chemical handling practices, and advocates of organic cotton or recycled polyester argue that their products should be used instead. Such assertions  lack perspective on the context of an industry that employees about 250 million people.

The accident in Indianapolis occurred at an aircraft engine factory. No one argues that because of industrial accidents in the manufacturing of aircraft engines we should all start using organic transportation by riding horses and ships again. And, nobody demonizes airplanes because workers involved in their production are injured in chemical spills.

A Balanced Perspective on Cotton: Responding to Valid Problems, Challenging Irresponsible Critics

Cotton and cotton textile industries are central to the economic growth of both developed and developing countries and contribute to sustainable and socially responsible development. Cotton is grown in more than 100 countries on about 33 million hectares, or about 2.5% of the world’s arable land, making it one of the most significant crops in terms of land use after food grains and soybeans.
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