01/11/10 – Cotton: The World’s “Dirtiest” Crop

Cotton is thought to be the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, using the most dangerous pesticides to human and animal health.Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land, yet it accounts for 24% of the world’s insecticide market and 11% of sale of global pesticides; or $2.6 billion worth of pesticides making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet.

Cotton pesticides are frequently broad range of organophosphates–pesticides originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II–and carbamate pesticides.2 It can take almost a 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton in the U.S., and it takes just under one pound of raw cotton to make one t-shirt. It takes approximately one pound of chemicals to grow three pounds of conventional cotton, now that’s scary.