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Organic Cotton Can Play a Vital Role in Feeding the World

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Clothes for a Change Campaign page.

A new Soil Association briefing published today (12 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'."