Textile News

Organic Cotton


Sustaining the health of soils, ecosystems and people.


Organic cotton is grown within a rotation system that builds soil fertility, protects biodiversity, and is grown without the use of any synthetic chemicals or GMOs. Growers must meet organic agricultural standards as set nationally, and by the importing country if export is carried out. Definition: http://www.ifoam.bio/en/organic- landmarks/definition-organic-agriculture

Producing Countries (2016/17 unless otherwise stated)

Manufacturing Process


Manufacturing Location


Fiber Production 2016/17 (MT)

117,525 mt

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


Market Share of Total Cotton Grown (2017/18)


Projected growth in production

Projected to increase (114,620 mt transitional 2016/17-2019/20)

Yield (see accompanying “TE Position” notes)

Claim of yield increases recorded in Benin, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Tajikistan, Turkey, Brazil, China and others.

Rainfed/ Irrigated

75-80% rainfed

Water Management

Organic Standards require effective management of water resources. Increased soil organic matter increases resilience to flood and drought. Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS): 1.2 Resource Management Organic management ensures that water resources are used sustainably.

Soil Fertility

Effective management of soil fertility is at the heart of organic production, with requirements for crop rotation, soil conservation and soil management. Organic cotton farmers report increases in organic matter (OM). Soil fertility challenges vary from region to region. Studies by FiBL, FAO and Rodale Institute show soil fertility increases on organic farms.


Organic management maintains or enhances biodiversity in crop and noncrop habitats on farms. FAO and FiBL studies alongside others show increased biodiversity on organic farms.

GMOs Permitted?


Use of Hazardous Pesticides


Use of Synthetic Fertilizer

No. Organic production relies on crop rotation and natural inputs such as animal or green manures to build fertility.

LCA available?

Yes – PE International (2014b)

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

182 (91% reduction – LCA)

Primary Energy Demand MJ /1000 kg fiber *

5,800 (61% reduction – LCA)

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

978 (46% reduction – LCA)

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

2.8 (26% reduction – LCA)

Social considerations / regulations

Not directly addressed by most organic production standards.

Verification / Certification (farm level)

Verification (annual); certification by 3rd party.

Chain of Custody (supply chain)

Identity Preserved; Certification of Supply Chain.

Product marketing/labeling

In store marketing/ on product label. 3rd party certification label optional.

Consumer recognition

Concept of organic widely understood, trusted and respected by consumers.


A price differential/sustainable price (i.e. meeting the cost of production and of ecosystem value addition) is expected to occur via market mechanisms and producer group policy, but is not a requirement of the standard. Optional/ partnership investment via NGOs, corporate investment, and PG investment goes back into the community.

Product marketing/labeling

In store marketing/ on product label. 3rd party certification label optional.

Quality perception/ implications

Historical perceptions of quality being an issue – but but are not considered an issue today.
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