Organic cotton can play a vital role in feeding the world
10th September 2014
A new Soil Association briefing published today (10 September 2014) explains how organic cotton helps farmers feed their families and local communities around the world. The Soil Association ‘Organic cotton helps to feed the world’ report follows a national YouGov poll which found a third of consumers (35%) think retailers should provide more information on ‘whether or not cotton is grown with a farming system that also helps farmers to feed their families’. This was more than those who wanted information on whether or not pesticides were used to grow the cotton (20%), whether or not the cotton is grown in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (20%) or whether or not the amount of water needed to grow the cotton is kept to a minimum (14%).
The report, launched as part of ‘Organic Textiles Week’, shows how organic cotton farming requires farmers to grow a diversity of crops to maintain healthy and fertile soils and fight off pests. These crops are also a source of food, enabling farmers and their families to feed themselves and their communities throughout the year and provide an additional income. Illustrated through case studies from China, India and Benin, the report provides a summary of how organic cotton is farmed in different regions, from China, Africa, India, Europe and the USA.
Speaking about the new report, Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said: “There is direct a link between the choices people make buying clothes on the high street and whether poor farmers thousands of miles away can feed themselves and their families. As the farmers quoted in this report say, organic farming systems encourage them to grow peppers, cabbages, turnips, onions, green beans, sweet potatoes, peanuts and other vegetables. They can eat what they grow without worrying about the pesticides and sell surplus produce in their local markets. Instead of being burdened by debt to pay for chemical sprays the farmers themselves say they have secure incomes - ‘no chemicals, loans and no health problems’.”
The findings of this briefing mirror those of research by the UN, which revealed that, “ Research shows that organic agriculture is a good option for food security... and [is] more sustainable in the long term”. The briefing has been produced as part of the ‘Cottoned On’ campaign highlighting the benefits of organic cotton. The campaign is calling on both retailers and the public to source more organic cotton. For more information on the campaign and to find out why nothing beats organic cotton when it comes to sustainability claims you can trust, visit www.cottoned.org
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Notes to editors
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2276 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th-18th January 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- Organic Textiles Week - taking place from 12-16 September, to coincide with London Fashion Week – will also be a focal point for organic textiles and fashion brands and retailers, with ethical clothing company People Tree planning a series of activities and events as well as many others from across the sector.
- For a full list of organisations, brands and retailers that support organic cotton and to find out where to buy organic cotton visit www.cottonedon.org