Just got hold of a copy of New Internationalist April Issue, which focuses on Cotton.
For anyone who doesnt know much about the problems associated with conventional cotton, such as the way it enslaves cotton farmers in the developing world (what NI would call the majority world), the way cotton farmers and their families are dying to make us our cheap clothes, and the way that the American government are subsidising their cotton farmers to such an extent that the rest of the world are trapped in poverty…. You might want to read it.
To me, the issue of cotton is one of the biggest development needs around. There is a massive need for developing world cotton farmers to switch to Organic methods, and yet as NI points out:
“Rural India has no shortage of keen teachers. Hundreds of NGOs and advocacy organizations are pushing the transition to organic in general, and cotton in particular. Still with cotton farmer suicides on the rise and only three per cent of the cotton crop organic, their impact has been severely limited. It is clear that, without massive public support from both state and national governments, ‘going organic’ will be very much swimming against the current.” [Emphases mine]
There is already a huge demand for organic cotton, the demand outstrips the available supply.
I’m working on a project to develop some organic cotton farms – want to get involved? Let me know!! Leave a comment here for me.
Whatever your scale of involvement, its worth considering how much cotton you are wearing today, and how many people may have died to produce it.
I believe that we have a responsibility to be ethical in our consumption, which mainly means consuming less, making do with more, and when you do have to buy more stuff – then buy second hand, or if that isnt possible, then buy ethicaly produced stuff.
I dont really buy all that stuff that we’re all told about buying our way into a better world. My view is that rather than improving our consumption patterns, we need to be reducing them. More than that, we have a responsibility to use our wealth to make other people’s lives better, rather than to buy ourselves some nice stuff. Even if it is fairly traded.
I edited this article on 17/09/07.