There is a very good chance that if you’ve bought anything made of cotton within the last several years, you have indirectly, and most likely unknowingly, supported the GMO industry. That’s because it is estimated that 90 percent of cotton produced worldwide is now genetically modified. While GM cotton likely won’t hurt you, the concern is that we, as consumers, haven’t been kept informed of the presence of these crops and their byproducts in our lives.
According to The Telegraph, British author Simon Ferringo says that only 12 countries in the world actually grow genetically modified cotton, but that their crops account for the majority produced in the world.
In the United States and elsewhere, the cotton is genetically modified to resist pests. The large prevalence of GM cotton means finding organic cotton is getting more and more difficult and is coming at a heftier price.
Some retailers have formed a “sustainable cotton consortium”. The companies, known as The Better Cotton Initiative, include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, H&M, Adidas, M&S, and Nike. While they currently have little control over whether or not they are using GM cotton, the companies are working towards more sustainable options.
“Larger brands tend to do a lot of ‘blending’ – using organic alongside non-organic. The issue is partly about shortage of supply of organic cotton, due to the dominance of the GM corporations. That is why the campaign is pressing big brands to sign up and drive the demand for organic, non-GM cotton,” said a spokesman for the group.
Cotton farming, in particular, is said to be a “toxic business” according to Amy leech of the Soil Association. “It uses a lot of pesticides—putting in peril the lives of women, men and children in cotton farming communities. 77 million cotton workers suffer poisonings from pesticides each year.”
By making the cotton crops resistant to pesticides, farmers are encouraged to use even more pesticides with little adverse effects to the crop. This makes an already “toxic business” potentially even more toxic.
As we reported earlier this year, GM cotton is having tragic effects in India. The suicide rate among Indian cotton farmers has skyrocketed since the introduction of Monsanto’s Bt cotton in 2002. Why? Because the price of seeds has skyrocketed, and with little alternate options, farmers are being stretched thin. About one Indian farmer killed himself every 30 minutes in 2009, for a grand total of 17,638 in that year alone. Their harvests are low and prices are high. The suicide phenomena has become known as “The GM Genocide.”
Farmers are killing themselves so that we can have our GM cotton t-shirts and socks. It’s difficult to truly grasp the gravity of this matter, but the fact is—it’s happening now and it’s happening, in a large part, due to the GMO industry.