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Susumu

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  1. Susumu

    Denim Blunders, Reflections and General Nonsense.

    Hi mpukas, I come almost nine months later, but I have to intervene; the article you linked is pretty misleading and slanted. I’m not sure what you mean by “benefits from organic” cotton, but I’m going to try explaining why organic cotton is so crucial. Firstly, I admit that not everything is idyllic in organic farming, and there are some misconceptions for some people for sure, but organic farming is not a scam – even when “big”. The person in the article, when it comes to organic farming, talks about “a fairly young practice”, about “an imperfect science”, and when it comes precisely to organic cotton, talks about “a good initiative”… “but it is not going to save the world”. Well, it's the world upside down. In the history of humanity, it’s what we call “conventional agriculture” that is a fairly young practice and an imperfect science. It depends on the type of crops, but organic farming was the only way we got until roughly 100 years ago. The conventional agriculture as we know it, soared really after WWII – mostly intensive farming with the use of pesticides. What is more new is the conjunction of intensive farming competitiveness applied to organic agricultural methods. Now, some facts: The article is citing the WWF: “The use of genetically-modified cotton varieties has increased in recent years reaching 20% (67.7 million ha) of the global crop area in 2002.” Sure… 2002… for an article written in 2015. Well, I have some news to tell: genetically-modified cotton is ultra dominant, it represents more than 90% of the global cotton production. On the other side, organic cotton represents 1% of the worldwide production. This means that if you buy some cotton clothes that don’t have an organic certification, you can be pretty sure it means you got 100% genetically-modified cotton. Now, what is genetically-modified cotton? The other name of this ultra dominant cotton is “Bt cotton”. They added a gene, that permits the cotton to produce an insecticide – Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) – that kills bollworm. It’s certainly difficult to understand and assert the hazardousness of genetically-modified cotton from a biological point of view. However, from an economic and legal point of view, its hazardousness is indisputable. It would probably not convinced everyone if I called Bt cotton “the sorcerer's apprentice cotton”, but if I call it “patented cotton”, because it’s what it is, I hope to have a solid point. Every year, cotton farmers around the globe have to buy cotton seeds, Bt cotton seeds, and because they’re patented, can cost a lot more to the farmer. In India, for instance, it can be almost ten times more expensive than non genetically-modified cotton, because of royalties. (Patented doesn't necessarily means GMO, but it’s a bit the case here.) But this isn’t over, when you grow GM cotton, you enter a system and you have to buy and use the whole package. This package consists mostly on one side of the patented seeds, and on the other side, of a lot of pesticides; pesticides that are of course patented and absolutely necessary to have a good crop. Ideally, with Bt cotton, you use less insecticide than non-GM conventional cotton – because it’s already secreted by the plant itself –, but you still need to use others insecticides for others insects, and you still need to use herbicides – some say you have to use more herbicides compared to non-GM conventional cotton. This seems pretty frequent when I search: less insecticides but more herbicides. But calling this GM cotton an imperfect science would be a euphemism. The not so funny thing is that the Bt cotton is often less and less effective over time because insects gains some resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis. This means you have to use more and more pesticides trying to save the crops. It has happened all around the world. The economic consequences for the farmers can be very serious, moreover the farmers are in a vicious circle where they’re absolutely dependant of these patented products (seeds and pesticides). There is also the contamination issue; non GM crops get easily contaminated by GM crops – because ultra dominant, not because they’re GM –, meaning that some cotton varieties are in danger, it’s killing diversity and traditional or ancient varieties, which is crucial from a security perspective in agriculture. In most areas of the world, non GM cotton is threatened by patented cotton. If I remember correctly it has already been declared illegal to have patented stuff if you didn’t pay for it – I remember at least this from Mexican maize and Monsanto willing to take legal action. We are loosing hundred of varieties because of this economic system – among others things –, varieties that have been crafted for thousand of years by mankind by crossing and genetical selections. It already happened 200 years ago with American cotton in India, but now, it’s far worse and more global. All this in favour of a few corporation that want to sell a simulacrum of nature. When we talk about cotton, it’s quite deceitful to sum up the problem with the simplistic opposition between conventional and organic agriculture and creating confusion with the ideas of synthetic pesticides and what is allowed or not in organic methods – organic cotton is in no way comparable to conventional cotton in this regard. It’s the harsh truth, when you think “cotton”, you have to think “GM vs organic cotton”. I don’t remember seeing a manufacturer indicate that his cotton is non GM; there are exceptions, but most of the time, buying non-organic cotton means buying proprietary technology. Obviously, organic cotton is also a business; some lies have probably been told by some companies – but I don’t know of any concrete example. But big and long-term lies, corruption and manipulation are on the other side. Conventional agriculture doesn’t need propaganda, it’s just here, ultra dominant, relying on money mechanics to last. I very well know that what I wrote is slanted, too. But one thing is sure, if you see “big organic” in the cotton field, what is Monsanto/Bayer for instance? The big money – where it becomes power – is there. Organic cotton is probably the last bastion of real cotton. Some links/sources: About Bt cotton resistance: (just search “Bt cotton resistance” on Internet to get plenty of information) In India: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/north/story/bt-cotton-has-failed-admits-monsanto-68749-2010-03-06 In US: https://agfax.com/2017/07/21/cotton-bollworm-bt-cotton-resistance-showing-up-from-north-carolina-to-texas-dtn/ About Bt cotton royalties, on a state-level: https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/India-Cuts-Monsanto-Seed-Royalties-for-3rd-Time-20190311-0007.html This is what working with nature looks like now. And this is nothing compared to the farmer-level, where it can be far worse. Burkina Faso abandoned GM cotton and said this cotton had poor quality: https://www.dw.com/en/burkina-faso-abandons-gm-cotton/a-19362330 Also, Fair trade is incompatible with GMO, because of economic dependency; some (most? all?) fair trade organizations clearly banned GM cotton. Information on cotton, from a GM point of view: http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/53/download/isaaa-brief-53-2017.pdf Information on cotton, from an organic point of view: About water consumption comparison (interesting about the “blue water”, “green water”…): https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/TE-LCA_of_Organic_Cotton-Fiber-Summary_of-Findings.pdf Comparison on what is allowed or not (I admit that “hazardous pesticides” is subject to interpretation, but there are more sources that exist) : https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/TE_Preferred-Cotton-Matrix_Production-Systems-1.pdf Organic Cotton Market Report 2018: https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2018-Organic-Cotton-Market-Report.pdf Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production(also linked in the “article”): https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=b68d34f550b446a41ff8e909c9f225fd&mc=true&node=se7.3.205_1601&rgn=div8 We can see what synthetic means: Alcohols, soap-based things, oils seem a lot less complex than glyphosate (which is used in conventional cotton agriculture). I’m not saying everything on this list is intrinsically good. I could also respond about this study in soybeans, but it’s getting too long. It’s just a start. I did not tell everything – but I know so little at the same time. I’m open to discussion.