Organic cotton is grown from non-genetically modified seeds and without the use of pesticides and other synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers. Producing cotton organically promotes and enhances biodiversity and does not interfere with natural biological cycles.
Cotton grown organically is mainly produced by countries in subtropical regions including Turkey, China and India. In the Unites States for cotton to be rated as organic it must also meet the requirements of the National Organic Program administered by the USDA that specifies the levels of chemicals allowed for pest control and fertilization as well as the way it is grown and handled subsequently.
In 2007, approximately 250,000 bales (57,000 metric tons) of organic cotton were produced by 24 countries with production levels growing by about 50% annually. In 2017, global production reached over 3 million metric tonnes worldwide. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s land but uses between 10% and 15% of the worlds pesticides – more than any other crop.