What, Exactly, Makes Cotton 'Organic'?
Have you ever wondered, ‘What, exactly, is the difference between organic and conventional cotton?’ Organic and conventional cotton differ on two key points: 1) The origin of the seeds, and 2) The origin of the inputs used to grow the cotton. Organic cotton uses non-GM (non-genetically modified) seeds and inputs like pesticides and fertiliser — but only if they are natural in origin. Conventional cotton, on the other hand, can use GM seeds, as well as pesticides and chemicals that are not themselves organic. In terms of performance, feel and appearance, there is no discernible difference between cotton that is produced by organic or conventional cultivation.
ICAC Represents ALL Cotton
Does organic cotton offer better quality than conventional cotton? In a word: No. There are a lot of factors that can affect the quality of cotton, but whether it's grown organically or conventionally is not among them.
Organic or Traditional, It's All Good
If organic cotton can be grown without using chemicals, why isn't more cotton, or even all of it, produced organically? In 2016, it represented 0.4% of global production and 0.1% of cotton's planted area. Organic production can be difficult, and the biggest challenge is yields. Globally, organic yields hover around 375 kg/hectare, while conventional yields are roughly double that amount (760 kg/hectare), according to research from ICAC's Dr. Kehsav Kranthi and Lihan Wei. However, evidence from India, the United States and Turkey shows that when production practices follow the strong scientific research base, high yields of more than 1,000 kg per hectare are possible. Organic and conventional cotton are not enemies! The goal is to increase the overall global consumption of cotton. Having an accurate and realistic view of the advantages and challenges of all types of cotton cultivation is the first step in that quest.
Cotton Producers Love the Land
Some people believe that organic cotton is better because organic farmers use conservation tillage, rotate their crops, and participate in land conservation efforts. All of those things are true! Organic producers are good stewards of the land. But they aren't the only ones! Many conventional cotton growers around the world also employ those very same practices. It's crucial that people understand all cotton producers do their best to care for the environment, no matter how they grow their crops.