Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Conventional cotton production relies heavily on the use of
agro-chemicals.13 It has been estimated that cotton uses
approximately 9% of the world's agrochemical pesticides, about 20%
of the world's insecticides and 8% of the world's chemical
fertilizers. The amounts of chemicals needed to grow cotton affect
human health and the world's eco-system.
In the early 1900s, cotton insect pests were controlled
primarily through cultural and physical methods. Insecticides have
become an integral part of the cotton production systems in the
world. More than 90% of total world cotton area is treated with one
or more insecticide applications per season. The major chemical
classes presently in use14 are relatively inexpensive
and broad-spectrum. They are, however, significantly disruptive to
most beneficial insects and they have significant environmental
residue problems. Insect resistance to insecticides is the major
problem affecting agrochemical usage on cotton. Herbicide
resistance is also becoming a problem.
The use of water resources in cotton farming presents a
significant environmental challenge. Irrigated cotton is frequently
grown in regions where fresh water is in short supply, such as the
Mediterranean and desert or near-desert areas in Australia, India,
Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and west United States. Extensive irrigation
of cotton affects regional water resources and ecosystems, possibly
contributing to surface and groundwater depletion. Inadequate
drainage has contributed to the salinization of fresh water in
China, Egypt and Uzbekistan. Fertilization practices increase the
risk of erosion, and diffusion of residues of synthetic fertilizer
increase the risk of contamination of surface and groundwater.
Current production technology affects the sustainability of
cotton production worldwide. The solution lies in developing
alternative approaches, which are less dangerous to human health
and the environment. The success of cotton production depends on
the least use of chemicals, and the best use of available resources
such as water and soil.
insecticides, fungicides and nematicides, herbicides and nutrients,
including nitrogen fertilizers.
14Organophosphates, carbamates and