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To grow high quality fiber and to maximize fiber yield per hectare, and therefore the profitability of the farmer.


Conventional cotton has historic high pesticide use. In general, GMOs have reduced insecticide use but increased herbicide use. Also, resistance is developing leading to a rise in chemical use. Petroleum based fertilizers are utilized widely to boost production, as are fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators, and defoliants. Water is also an issue with high irrigation and impacts on toxicity of ground and aquifers.

Producing Countries (2016/17 unless otherwise stated)

60 cotton-producing countries worldwide – top 10 are India, China, USA, Brazil, Pakistan, Australia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Mexico, Turkmenistan

Manufacturing Process


Manufacturing Location


Fiber Production 2016/17 (MT)


Growth in production (2016/17 - 2017/18)

Slight decline of 2-3%

Market Share of Total Cotton Grown (2017/18)


Projected growth in production

Slight decline of 2-3%

Yield (see accompanying “TE Position” notes)

806kg/ha global avg. (ICAC 2017/18)

Rainfed/ Irrigated

50-70% irrigated

Water Management

Competition for limited water resources is one of the most critical issues faced by irrigated agriculture (Cotton Inc.)

Soil Fertility

Addressed through use of petroleum- based fertilizers. No or low tillage practices also utilized in some areas, but this leads to increased herbicide use to manage inter crops.


Primarily a mono-crop culture

GMOs Permitted?

Yes – over 80% globally and estimated at over 90% in the USA and India

Use of Hazardous Pesticides


Use of Synthetic Fertilizer


LCA available?

Yes – Cotton Inc. (2017)

Water Consumption (m3/ 1000kg fiber*) or best practices used to conserve water

1,559 (LCA)

Primary Energy Demand MJ /1000 kg fiber *

13,720 (LCA)

Global Warming (kg of CO2-eq/ 1000kg fiber*)

1,326 (LCA)

Eutrophication (kg of phosphate-eq/ 1000 kg fiber *)

7.8 (LCA)

Social considerations / regulations

Verification / Certification (farm level)


Chain of Custody (supply chain)

Not in every geographic area.

Product marketing/labeling

Various schemes are available for “100% cotton” products.

Consumer recognition

The Cotton Inc. Cotton Seal has consumer recognition in the US Market.


Commodity prices based upon market conditions.

Product marketing/labeling

Various schemes are available for “100% cotton” products.

Quality perception/ implications

No known quality implications.
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