100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
For home sewers, businesses, retailers, and anyone who gives a scrap!
First up is a video essay about cotton farming in India produced by Greenpeace. The information isn't new, but the images are beautiful and if you aren't aware of the plight of India's cotton farmers this is a quick and easy tutorial. Enjoy.
If you are like me, the oil spill in the Gulf is weighing heavy on your head and heart. I truly believe we haven't even begun to realize the long term effects of this disaster. This video parody falls into the category of: sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.
Also, If you haven't yet heard about how to donate hair and fur to the clean up effort, here's a link to the official Matter of Trust site. Since videos are the theme today, here's a link to a video explaining Matter of Trust's work.
We have been talking about the negative repercussions of genetically modified cotton seeds for years. What seemed like a quick, easy fix to pests in the field has indeed turned out to be too good to be true. Last week Reuters reported: Monsanto set to help fight spread of "super-weeds". Their solution of course is more of their own products.
As I see it, the good news is that A. they are admitting there is a problem and B. Monsanto's stock prices are down 40% from a year ago. If they stop being able to make money on their poison, perhaps we have a chance.
NOTE: We have decided to extend our knit sale through June 4th.
Lately there has been some interesting reports that if you haven't heard about already, I want to bring to your attention:
1. ADHD linked to pesticide exposure - yep, another example of short term problem (bugs on our plants) creating an even bigger, more complicated and widespread problem. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers led by Maryse Bouchard, a researcher in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Montreal, analyzed the levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children and found children with above-average levels had roughly twice the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD. By eating only organic fruits and vegetables you can reduce your exposure to these toxins. The abstract of the paper published in the journal Pediatrics is accessible online.
2. Genetically modified cotton stops one bug but fosters another - yep... you guessed it. Our GMO cotton seeds have yet again created another problem to worry about. In this LA Times article the focus is on China. Although Bt cotton (genetically engineered) has reduced bollworms from the fields it has created a new pest called mirid bugs. Researches from Cornell University first noticed the problem in 2004 "when they surveyed 481 farmers in five Chinese provinces. They suspected something was amiss when they discovered that Bt cotton farmers were using more pesticides than farmers planting conventional cotton." Does anyone else think this is insanity?
3. Don't forget last week The President’s Cancer Panel Report: “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” was submitted to President Obama. What was the advice of this report by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston? You guessed it - choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers , antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase risk of contracting cancer. Organic products avoid the use of these chemicals. If you want to read the entire 240 page report you can down load it here.
Do you need any more reasons to support organic agriculture? I don't. Our CSA starts this Friday. I can't wait to see and taste what local, organic treats await! Yes, organic is more expensive in the short term but when you factor in ADHD, more pests and potentially cancer, I think the cost is actually very affordable!
Note this is a picture of a local invasive weed NOT the pigweed mentioned in the NY Times article.
Cracks are beginning to show in Monsanto's GMO (genetically modified organism) armor. This week's article in the New York Times paints a grim picture for cotton, soy bean and corn farmers who have embraced Monsanto's RoundUp Ready seeds. Just like germs that have become resistant to antibiotics, the use of GMO seeds is creating super weeds. To quote the article:
“The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety in Washington.
When will we figure out that the quick fix is often followed by a serious of even more difficult problems?
Another sign that the balance is beginning to shift happened today when The President’s Cancer Panel Report was submitted. As reported by The Organic Trade Association, “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications,” according to the report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” submitted to President Obama by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
In a letter to President Obama, the panel stated “The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”
If you want to read the entire report, you can download it here.
Believe it or not, for the first time ever, Monsanto has admitted that pests have developed a resistance to their Bt (genetically modified) Cotton. Skeptics of GMO seeds have been speaking of this risk for years but this is the first time the makers of GMO seeds have admitted such a problem is actually happening in fields. Of course, their solution is to switch to their 2nd generation of Bt seeds. You can read the full article in The Hindu.
When will we figure out that the "easy answer" often leads to a whole series of more challenging problems than the first one?
NOTE: THE WINNER OF THE EARTH DAY GIVEWAY IS Stacey Christensen! Congratulations you have won 5 free yards of Harmony Art organic fabrics.
Thank you VERY much for participating in the contest! I really enjoyed reading all of the quotes. An extra thank you goes out to Jan of Daisy Janie for organizing the giveaway.
Recent studies and reports are showing that the chemicals in our food are making us fat! It isn't what you eat as much as what is in and has been sprayed on what you eat that may be leading to the obesity epidemic. There's a link to a recent article if you want to learn more.
The best way to avoid these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), or as researchers have begun to call them, obesogens is to eat organic foods. My husband recently lost about 50+ pounds and I have to think that some of it has to do with our embracing stricter organic food purchasing, our reduction in processed food eating, and our vegetarian diet. Reading this recent article only reinforced our food choices. I don't mind paying more for real, pesticide free, healthy food. It's good for me and the planet. The alternative just doesn't make sense.
Photo is of hubby and me with our hula instructor. Note the skirt made by Hamakua Homegrown out of our Fields of Honey organic sateen fabric.
As a follow up to yesterday's post, this article (with help from the non- profit Organic Exchange) hits the nail on the head and clears up some of the misinformation being spread. Here is the the last paragraph from the article:
"Ultimately the problem comes down to one of intent. The brands and retailers that are leading the way in ensuring the minimization of environmental impact of their sourcing programmes should not be censured if there is some degree of accidental contamination in their product. The beneficial impact of organic farming techniques still applies. Organic farming brings many social and environmental benefits; eliminating the use of harmful and toxic chemicals, reducing the cycles of debt that farmers, particularly marginalized ones in countries such as India, find themselves in, and contributing to healthy ecosystems that benefit farmers and their communities. While GMO contamination is a serious issue that must be addressed, it is important that the majority of farmers who are operating honestly continue to receive support and encouragement."
Well said. In case you are wondering, the picture is of a huge pile of cotton seeds taken while we were on the Sustainable Cotton Project farm tour in October of 2005.
You may have read some of the news reports about H & M organic cotton from India being found to contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). I find this both disturbing and heartening. Disturbing because organic cotton seeds are NOT allowed to have GMOs -- my personal opposition to GMOs is part of the reason that I have embraced organics (in food and fiber) so vehemently. For a great in depth post on GMOs visit our friends at Oecotextiles.
So why am I am encouraged by this disturbing report? Well, it means there are checks and balances and that they are working. The publicity of this discovery will no doubt serve to ensure there is better care in avoiding GMO seeds in the future. GMO drift is indeed real and also a serious threat to all organic crops. I hope this brings the attention needed to the problem so that moving forward we can ensure "organic" indeed means GMO free!
Rest assured, we are most certainly looking into our own "organic" fiber from India. According to my manufacturing partner:
"As far as we can see, there isn't any direct link to the farms they were buying from and where our production is-as you know I've gone through the farms where our fiber comes from and there is very meticulous paperwork and controls. However, I do understand that with GM/non-GM crops, tracking can be difficult."
I do want to point out that although a very important part of the organic story, GMOs are in no way the end of the story! Please visit our conventional vs organic page which shows many of the other improvements that organic fabric production address. I am hopeful this issue will help ensure better transparency and record keeping in India and all over the globe moving forward. Stay tuned... the journey (albeit bumpy sometimes) continues.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.