Cotton

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Slide1: 

Industrial Cotton Growth Cradle to Grave By Ross Bale

Slide2: 

Race, Poverty, and the Environment Raquel Pinderhughes Urban Studies Program San Francisco State, University Spring 2003

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Cotton is the single most prevalent fiber used in clothing today. My presentation will focus on six major identified steps used in the production and consumption of cotton; specifically, the societal-environmental impacts these steps have upon the communities in which they exist. Although cotton textiles are used for a variety of industrial and consumer purposes, I will focus on the impacts surrounding the primary usage of cotton, as fabric for clothing. - A Cotton “Boll” Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home Harvest

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Cotton fibers are harvested from the lint of several species within the genus Gossypium. Cotton plants are the size of small trees or shrubs, when their flowers blossom they become an enclosed boll, or pouch which splits open at maturity, exposing the lint or production material. - Gossypium Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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There are three major native species of cotton that are commonly utilized and interbred in production. In Asia Gossypium arboreum, which like its Latin name suggests, is the size of a small tree. In North America, the common G. hirsutum, which is a low bush with many limbs. In Africa, G. barbadense, another low, bush-like species whose bolls produce longer lint or fibers. - Gossypium Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

Slide7: 

There are three major native species of cotton that are commonly utilized and interbred in production. In Asia Gossypium arboreum, which like its Latin name suggests, is the size of a small tree. In North America, the common G. hirsutum, which is a low bush with many limbs. In Africa, G. barbadense, another low, bush-like species whose bolls produce longer lint or fibers. - Gossypium Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

Slide8: 

There are three major native species of cotton that are commonly utilized and interbred in production. In Asia Gossypium arboreum, which like its Latin name suggests, is the size of a small tree. In North America, the common G. hirsutum, which is a low bush with many limbs. In Africa, G. barbadense, another low, bush-like species whose bolls produce longer lint or fibers. - Gossypium Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

Slide9: 

There are three major native species of cotton that are commonly utilized and interbred in production. In Asia Gossypium arboreum, which like its Latin name suggests, is the size of a small tree. In North America, the common G. hirsutum, which is a low bush with many limbs. In Africa, G. barbadense, another low, bush-like species whose bolls produce longer lint or fibers. - Gossypium Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton has a long growing season which demands large amounts of both sunshine and water, which makes its production more effective in tropical and sub-tropical areas. As a rule, the high demands of cotton in water, soil and sun mean that the planting of this cash crop frequently replaces the cultivation of sustenance crops. High Resource Demands Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton is primarily grown in the Southern US and California, Africa, South Asia and China. In the US industrial agricultural methods are the norm, with most aspects of cultivation being mechanized. In Asia and Africa mechanization has not caught on as quickly and many fields are still seeded, weeded, and picked by hand High Resource Demands Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The underside of the leaves of African and American species of cotton produce a sticky-sweet nectar which attracts many pests, chief among them the bollworm (the boll weevil has been largely eradicated), the larvae of a small moth, Pectinophora gossypiella. Bollworms and budworms burrow into the boll or bud shortly before harvest and feed on the fibers or lint. The Bollworm- Pectonophora gossypiella Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The underside of the leaves of African and American species of cotton produce a sticky-sweet nectar which attracts many pests, chief among them the bollworm (the boll weevil has been largely eradicated), the larvae of a small moth, Pectinophora gossypiella. Bollworms and budworms burrow into the boll or bud shortly before harvest and feed on the fibers or lint. The Bollworm- Pectonophora gossypiella Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The underside of the leaves of African and American species of cotton produce a sticky-sweet nectar which attracts many pests, chief among them the bollworm (the boll weevil has been largely eradicated), the larvae of a small moth, Pectinophora gossypiella. Bollworms and budworms burrow into the boll or bud shortly before harvest and feed on the fibers or lint. Damaged Boll Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton in its original form is a rather benign crop that is native to many areas. Cotton can easily be grown in a way that has a very low impact on land. Cotton is almost always mono-cropped, and as stated earlier, this along with the genus’ high demands in water and sun mean that where cotton is grown it commonly displaces sustenance crops. Industrial Farming Methods Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton has a historical legacy attached to colonialism and slavery, specifically American, British, Turkish exploitation of North Africa, South Asia, and the Americas. Gathering cotton by hand is back breaking work. A Louisiana Plantation, Circa 1895 Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Britain sought areas where cotton could be cultivated economically. Portions of India and the Sudan proved to be suitable for this. The Nile river basin in particular was modeled to be a major supplier for the British Empire. British Cotton Colonial Holdings, 18th-19th centuries Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton is a commodity on the world market and is subject to wild price variation. Unstable levels of production and market return make cotton a weak crop to base a national or local economy on. Communities that grow cotton in India and Africa are often devastated by global price shifts or by the many pests and diseases the plague the crop. Quite often these communities are left with little or no means of surviving once their crop has been destroyed or has lost value. 1998-2002 Cotton Price Index Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cotton is typically grown using heavy levels of pesticides. Herbicides are predominant outside of the USA, where weeding machines are not a feasible economic alternative. Endosulfan is the primary pesticide used to control the bollworm. It is toxic to human beings if touched or ingested and particularly lethal to children. Endosulfan Molecule Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Endosulfan breaks down within 2-4 weeks when sprayed on plants, but can take several years to break down in soil or in animals (beef from cows grazing near cotton fields have been found to contain dangerous levels of the pesticide) . Endosulfan when used repeatedly can lead to long-term contamination of ground water as well as short-term contamination of local populations of animals, whose poisons may be ingested by persons who eat them. Endosulfan exposure also leads to higher levels of cancer and birth defects in children born to pregnant women who have been exposed Government distributed Endosulfan Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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In poorer regions where cotton is grown and cultivated by hand, endosulfan is responsible for numerous deaths, including over 40 a year in the nation of Benin. Lack of education and lack of economic alternatives are the main reasons for exposure to the poison. Most farmers who use the heavier pesticides have little alternative. Governments frequently subsidize new pesticides as their partial or incomplete use leads to resistant strains of bollworms, which in North and West Africa are now resistant to more benign pesticides, such as DDT and pyrethroid. Cotton Farmer In Benin Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The fact that DDT is seen as “benign” relative to endosulfan shows the extreme nature of the poison and illustrates the continual graduation of farmers to more and more lethal forms of pest control. Moreover, the overuse of pesticide leads to the death of the natural predators of other pests such as aphids (which are resistant to most pesticides) and an all new pest is made more prominent. Birth defects due to parental Endosulfan exposure Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The fact that DDT is seen as “benign” relative to endosulfan shows the extreme nature of the poison and illustrates the continual graduation of farmers to more and more lethal forms of pest control. Moreover, the overuse of pesticide leads to the death of the natural predators of other pests such as aphids (which are resistant to most pesticides) and an all new pest is made more prominent. 8 month old child suffering from hydrocephalous disease Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Pesticides compromise as much as 50% of the costs of cultivation for many farmers and the increasing use of pesticides has led to high levels of debt and bankruptcy among poorer farmers. As a condition or “structural adjustment” within loan packages, the IMF has encouraged countries like Benin and Zimbabwe to subsidize pesticides and to privatize the formerly public trades boards. Harvest in Benin Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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An alternative to increased pesticide use is the encouragement of natural predators of the bollworm, including ladybirds, lacewings, damsel bugs, night stalking spiders, common brown earwigs, fire ants, muc wasps, and the trichogramma wasp. Pest traps, spot treatment and organic pesticides are also more sustainable alternatives. Natural Predators Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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A more common alternative today is to turn to genetically-modified crops produced by companies such as Monsanto. The most common species, “Bt” or Bacillus thuringiensis, is advertised as fully resistant to the common bollworm. Early use shows that this is true, as such large portions of cotton production in the US and China (20 and 30% respectively) now use Bt strains. Bt cotton diagram, the “killer” spore.. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

Slide27: 

A more common alternative today is to turn to genetically-modified crops produced by companies such as Monsanto. The most common species, “Bt” or Bacillus thuringiensis, is advertised as fully resistant to the common bollworm. Early use shows that this is true, as such large portions of cotton production in the US and China (20 and 30% respectively) now use Bt strains. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home Bt cotton diagram, the “killer” spore..

Slide28: 

This usage has led to a large short-term reduction in the numbers of bollworm larvae, which has caused the numbers of natural predators to fall heavily. Yet fourth and fifth generations of Bt cotton have shown to be much less resistant to the Bollworm. Compounding this is the emergence of large numbers of bollworms who have successfully adapted to Bt cotton! This has left numerous cotton farmers with crops that are extremely exposed to predators- predators that now have much fewer natural enemies. Pest Resistance Increases over time.. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The main propagators of Bt cotton, increased (subsidized) pesticide use, and the privatization of public marketing boards have been transnational corporations. Most prominent among these transnationals has been Dow Chemical (producer of endosulfan), Cargill of Minneapolis (which handles 10% of global trade in unprocessed and ginned cotton), and Monsanto Corporation (Bt Cotton). Protest against Dow in Bhopal, India Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Ginning Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The second step of production takes place after harvest, where cotton is processed in a factory typically referred to as a Cotton Gin. After being heated and dried to eliminate excess moisture it is put through several straining machines which remove dust and plant debris. Lint is then separated from the seeds and packed into bales, which are shipped off to textile mills. Gins are almost fully mechanized operations and are usually located in economical locations near or adjacent to crops. Preprocessing at a cotton gin Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Ginning is short process, taking no more than three to six months out of the year, therefore it represents a temporary form of employment for most workers. As with most heavily mechanized production facilities, cotton gins utilize heavy machinery which can be extremely dangerous for overworked or under-trained workers. Cotton’s history is rife with examples of serious injuries and fatalities due to cost-cutting labor practices. Chinese Cotton Worker Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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“Cotton dust” or aerial fiber intake is also a major concern, as massive amounts of fiber enter the air. Historically gin workers inhaled large amounts of fiber which led to severe lung problems. Although this problem has been exposed and largely addressed in America today, it remains an issue abroad, especially in countries where worker-safety is less rigorous and organization rights are curtailed. US Cotton dust exposure, by state Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Textiles Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Cording The third step of production converts the cleaned cotton fibers into actual fabrics in a textiles factory. Cotton fibers are stretched and twisted to form cords, with the degree of twisting affecting the texture and hardness of the eventual cloth. Cords are then woven into actual fabrics which are then ready for dying and/or printing. Textiles factories are heavily mechanized and are located throughout the world, although their labor-intensity has made their existence in more-developed nations scarce. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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South Asian textiles factory Like cotton ginning, textile factories contain massive amounts of stray fibers which lead to lung problems as well as large machines which present the danger of grave injury. Textile production is more labor intensive than ginning, so these issues become especially acute. Frequently cotton is mixed with other compounds such as polyester in the creation of a fabric which is then treated with a variety of chemicals which all can affect worker health. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Clothes Manufacturing Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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A clothing factory in Beattyville, Kentucky This fourth step of production sees textiles enter a factory where workers convert raw fabrics into a saleable product. Depending on the product to be made different levels of mechanization are employed with the common industrial sewing machine being the primary means of production. Clothes manufacturing is only partially mechanized and is extremely labor-intensive, as such most production has been moved to less-developed nations were cheaper labor pools are more easily exploited Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Latin American Sweatshop Due to the widespread efforts of many human rights organizations, clothes factories are increasingly referred to as “sweatshops,” a name with negative connotations derived from the exploitative labor practices that abound in these facilities. Garment workers are some of the most poorly paid laborers in the world. Industry videos brag about worker wages in Latin America and South-east Asia lower than 49 cents-per-hour. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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East Asian Garment Worker Globalization puts pressure on local economies, leading to the reduction of labor standards, privatization of public holdings, and the elimination of protections for local businesses. All these factors commonly lead to the devastation of traditional economic means of livelihood, which in turn lead to massive unemployment and cheap labor for multinationals. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Saipan, a US protectorate In the Marianas Islands Often laborers are forced to work is unhealthy conditions that would be unacceptable in more-developed nations. In Saipan, many women work 6 or 7 days a week in fourteen hour shifts. They are docked pay for bathroom breaks (where there are available bathrooms), and factories are not adequately ventilated, leading to high temperatures and unhealthy levels of clothing fiber intake. In many areas such as Saipan or Cambodia, workers are forced to take birth-control pills to make sure they don’t become pregnant while on the job. Human Rights groups like Global Exchange have documented numerous cases of rape, where female workers have been assaulted by management on a routine basis. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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A state of virtual or real slave labor exists for many garment workers. Many workers are smuggled into more-developed countries to work as laborers in informal factories. Here they have no option to leave and are held in servitude until they pay off their “debt” incurred for transportation to the country. In Saipan as well as cases documented in Nicaragua, women have been forced to rent dormitories from garment manufacturers and live in a state of indentured servitude. A view of a sweatshop in Saipan, taken from a security camera Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Most clothing lines within the more-developed nations attempt to distance themselves from this dirty production process by contracting out their work to separate firms (which are often incorporated in the home country of the factory). Therefore it is more difficult for human rights organizations and NGOs to deal with labor issues head on when ownership is more diffuse. House Majority Leader Tom Delay (the foremost opponent of labor reform within the protectorates) Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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An advertisement run by Global Exchange Nonetheless, some important victories have been made, with the labor practices of many corporations being raised in Vietnam and Indonesia. This has just served to move more production to other less-developed nations where labor laws are less rigorous. The highlights an important trend of globalization, a “race to the bottom,” where less-developed nations lower labor and environmental standards to compete for foreign investment. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Consumers Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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The American Ideal.. Modern fashion and clothing trends have led to a huge demand of clothes in more-developed countries far outside those deemed necessary to utility and every-day use. Increased levels of advertising have created a level of demand for clothes that is unprecedented. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Waste And Conclusion Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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5% of Landfill within the United States Post-consumer textile waste compromises approximately 5% of landfill mass (this includes all manufactured products). This figure excludes gin plant parts and exiting yarn, processed fibers from textile plants, and cutting waste from garment factories. While most of the answers companies pursue seek to deal with the problem “at the end of the pipe”, once the waste has already been produced, it is important that factories implement waste minimization and resource recovery/reuse processes. Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home

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Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home While the consumption and use of cotton are nowhere near as problematic for the global environment as the consumption and use of other resources (such as petroleum), over-consumption has led to what I would deem to be an over-predominance of cotton cultivation and manufacturing globally. Furthermore, cotton processing has vast effects upon local environments, especially the rates at which endosulfan contaminates groundwater and livestock.

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Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home To conclude, I’m not sure that a reduction in demand is necessarily a good way to attack the problems at hand here. I believe that a world-wide measure to increase worker’s rights is necessary, something that contains the breadth and view of the UN and the “bite,” so to speak, of the WTO. Small, independent worker’s consortiums can only be so effective in halting the travel of exploitative labor practices to more exposed countries. - Medea Benjamin, head of Global Exchange, one of the foremost human rights groups involved in the battle over sweatshops.

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Harvest Ginning Textiles Clothes Consumers Waste Home Pesticide use, like worker’s rights, is also something I believe needs to be tackled on a global scale, starting with the IMF. More pressure needs to be put on organizations and governments to seek other alternatives to pesticides (poly-culture, natural enemies, spot treatment and organic pesticides), rather than subsidize ever-increasing levels of poison usage (and ever increasing levels of debt for individual farmers). In essence this move would break one of the fundamental if unofficial roles of the IMF, to facilitate the investments and trade of multinational corporations within the third world. Cotton workers in W. Africa