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What are the environmental impacts of cotton?

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• Cotton is a vegetable fiber and so decomposes quite easily with no harmful impact on the environment. However, the process of cotton cultivation is not safe for the environment. Cotton is one of the crop that consumes a huge amount of water in its cultivation thus affecting the freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity. According to statistics available, it is said that in order to produce 1 Kg of cotton almost 10,000 litres of water is required.

• Water is provided in the fields in excess amount and as a result the water runoff from the field into the water bodies carrying with themselves some toxic and harmful pesticides, fertilizers and salt that may be added to the cotton crop during cultivation thus contaminating the water bodies and affecting the life of aquatic animals. To name a few chemicals used in cotton production are aldicarb and endosulfan. During the cultivation of cotton, about 16% and 7% of insecticides and herbicides are used respectively.

• Another impact is that the cultivation of cotton makes the soil saline which leads to waterlogging and leaching of soil. Cotton crop makes the soil more saline which interferes with the growth of the crop.

• Also, the cotton production process is often linked with climate change since its production releases almost 220 million tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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