Despite being a highly sustainable crop, cotton is often misunderstood. Some claim that growing cotton uses too much water, pesticides, and energy, while taking land away from food crops and reducing air quality. The truth is, none of these things are true anymore thanks to the advent of modern farming techniques and practices—but the cotton industry is still working to bust these outdated myths. In this article, we’ll look at each of them, one by one.
There are two main varieties of genetically engineered cotton. The first variety is designed to resist Monsanto’s Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, while the second is designed to stimulate the plant’s production of toxins, which kill the bollworm (cotton’s primary pest). It is important to understand the implications of genetically modified (GM) cotton compared to non-GM cotton.
“Conventional cotton” refers to cotton that is grown with the help of synthetic agrochemicals, commonly from genetically modified seeds. Genetically engineered cotton now accounts for 75 percent of all conventional cotton. This method employs suboptimal farming and manufacturing practices that are significantly harder on the environment.
Organic cotton, however, is grown with reduced amounts of toxins, pesticides, and fertilizers. Methods and practices used for growing organic cotton minimize environmental impact. Federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds in organic cotton production, and require that these seeds are natural and untreated. Currently, organic cotton comprises less than one percent of total global cotton production.
Raw Cotton is free from GMOs when grown organically. In order to be certified organic, farms must follow organic farming practices and factories must process organic cotton fibers separately from conventional cotton.
We’ll start by referencing the statement that ultimately came from our 2002 position paper on genetically modified cotton:
Cotton is as old as civilization itself, grown in many regions all over the world for thousands of years. Today, cotton is grown to support a variety of durable and disposable products. When we think of cotton, many of us can close our eyes and think of our favorite 100 percent cotton t-shirt or our most comfortable pair of jeans, both of which are very durable and sometimes last us a lifetime. Others may think of some of their personal care and hygiene products like cotton swabs, cotton balls, tampons, baby diapers, all of which are used frequently on sensitive body parts and then disposed of.
The Barnhardt family has been purifying cotton for personal care product applications for decades, and our commitment to delivering safe and sustainable cotton-containing products begins right where it should—on the farm. When we envision cotton, we embrace all aspects of the cotton supply chain—from farming to ginning, through purification, then the converting and manufacturing of a wide variety of end-use products.
As parents grow increasingly concerned over baby health and hygiene, and birth rates continue to rise in emerging economies, the baby care market is growing—and growing fast. In 2019, it was valued at $5.7 billion globally.
Not only is this market growing, but it’s also changing. Millennial parents have created an unprecedented demand for safe and organic baby care products, and as this key consumer group becomes more financially strong, this demand will likely increase.
Today, we’re looking at trends within the baby care market and what they may tell us about its future. Continue reading
Cotton is the all-natural fiber of choice for the ages, going back to the Egyptians and other civilizations of the ancient world. As humankind has developed different needs and wants for fiber-built goods, we keep coming back to the original fiber used in some of the first clothing for a variety of applications including nonwoven hygiene and baby care products, as well as dental and medical supplies like cotton rolls.
In this series, we’ll explore what makes cotton so special–its unique properties that have driven its versatility and popularity–from a performance perspective–for thousands of years. Continue reading
The cotton industry has a demonstrated history of holding itself accountable when it comes to environmental effects like climate change and pollution. Cotton is an inherently sustainable fiber; however, mitigating the effects of cotton farming on our natural environment has a lot to do with which farming practices are in place. Continue reading
You’ve probably heard of people having composting bins in their backyard but why don’t people have biodegradable bins, too? Even though the words compostable and biodegradable seem very similar and some people use them interchangeably in conversation, there’s a key difference between the terms. Continue reading
Did you know that cotton contamination is 100 percent preventable? In the past, many cotton industry experts and farmers believed that some amount of contamination was inevitable; but today, with the advent of stronger preventative techniques, the National Cotton Council of America argues that contamination can be prevented altogether. The NCC is working tirelessly to get this message out to U.S. cotton farmers, providing them with the information and resources they need to protect cotton’s reputation as a clean fiber. Continue reading
Cotton has a number of properties that make it well-suited to the healthcare industry. It is soft, absorbent, and hypoallergenic, and it responds well to all three major sterilization methods (steam, ethylene oxide, and gamma radiation). Today, we’ll take a look at the role of cotton in today’s medicine and healthcare fields, examining why this fiber is a favorite among so many doctors and nurses. Continue reading
In part one of this series on the evolution of cotton, we explored how a fiber with origins traced to multiple ancient civilizations has firmly established itself as a global phenomenon, peerless in its comfort, performance, and versatility. Continue reading