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A recent research that compared the social and environmental impacts of various types of cotton production has conclusively reported that production of organic cotton has 50% less impact on global climate change than conventional cotton, which is good news. The report is based on three cotton production methods including organic, conventional and Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
Some of the factors that were considered during the study include climate change, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical ozone creation, ozone depletion, consumption of fresh/blue water, human toxicity and primary energy demand.
The study showed that the organic cotton and BCI Cotton had minimum impact and a more positive ecological footprint compared to traditional types of farming, whilst on the economic and social side, the difference is insignificant. For instance, while the production of organic cotton had almost 50% less impact on climate change in comparison with conventional farming, Better Cotton relatively didn’t make an impact.
The acidification property of organic cotton is 95% less for organic cotton when compared with conventional cotton, while Better Cotton showed 1% less impact, as per the study.
When it comes to the eutrophication property of organic cotton, it’s 101 percent less for organic cotton against conventional cotton. Further, it was seen that production of organic cotton takes up less blue water (water sources from lakes, ground, and freshwater) versus cultivation of conventional cotton.
India is the leader in global cotton production. As of 2016-17, it accounted for about 38 percent of the global cotton, as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
Organic cotton cultivation and BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) are two different farming systems designed to solve sustainability-related issues in growing cotton in India.