Conventionally Grown GE Cotton Is the ‘World’s Dirtiest Crop’
You might be surprised to learn that cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to the cotton industry’s heavy use of hazardous herbicides and insecticides, including some of the most hazardous insecticides on the market. According to the Organic Trade Association:6
"Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop.
Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production.
All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous.
Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater."
As you might suspect, this is hazardous on multiple levels — for the farmers working with these chemicals, the people living nearby, the consumers buying the cotton and virtually everyone else, who will eventually be impacted by this widespread environmental pollution.
This is one reason why I strongly encourage you to choose organic cotton clothing whenever possible — it will not be genetically engineered and subject to this onslaught of toxic exposures.
Top Tips for Safer Clothing
Looking for clothing made from organic cotton is an excellent start to finding safe, non-toxic clothing (for you and the environment). You can also look for the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label, which is indicative that it has been tested by an independent laboratory and found to be free of harmful levels of more than 100 substances, including:
- Azo dyes
- Heavy metals
- Allergenic dyes
Finally, many experts do recommend washing new clothes when you bring them home from the store, maybe even twice. If the article of clothing cannot be machine washed, consider running it through a cycle in a hot dryer before wearing it.
You may also want to keep on some clothes while trying on new clothing at a store (at least leave on your undergarments, and then wash those too when you get home). Washing your hands after shopping is also a good idea, as you've been handling clothing that could have any number of chemicals and other contaminants on them.