The Rupp Report: Cotton With A New Approach
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
In the International Year of Natural Fibres, declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, cotton is even more the focus of attention than in the past. For decades,
cotton was considered to be a kind of "bad" fiber, using too much water for irrigation, and,
moreover, too much pesticide. Those times are gone.
What Is Clean Cotton?
As Textile World has reported before, there is a totally new approach to cotton these days. Sustainability is one of the key words. Customers around the world are putting more attention on "clean cotton." But what exactly is clean or sustainable cotton? As quoted in the last cotton report from Bremen Cotton Exchange, sustainability as well as sustainable cotton production are much-discussed terms.
However, there are still misunderstandings between sustainability and terms like "organic" or "bio." Back in 1987, the United Nations presented its definition of sustainability: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Therefore, a sustainable agricultural production should have an ecological, economical and social balance that also considers the options of future developments."
Under the theme "Sustainable Cotton Production," the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) organized a Research Associates Program, which took place April 6-16. Cotton researchers from Ivory Coast, Germany, Greece, Sudan, Turkey and Zambia participated. The focus of the program was to learn the definition of sustainability in combination with practical input of the cotton production sector.
Besides modules at the ICAC office in Washington, other important locations for the US cotton industry - including visits to the United States Department of Agriculture and Cotton Council International in Washington, and Cotton Incorporated in Cary, N.C. - completed the program.
The US agricultural sector also tries to improve its methods through intensive research, the report says. The use of chemical inputs is being reduced further owing to the use of genetically engineered seeds. Furthermore, the agricultural research has reached a stage of high-tech crop management that can reduce pesticide use to a minimum. An exact diagnosis of the soil condition, irrigation steered by satellite and, of course, specific seed breeding are factors already used in the fields.
To Face Financial Problems
Obviously, the financial crisis hit the textile sector. This was mentioned at a panel discussion of the ICAC Standing Committee in which the research associates could participate as well. The meeting took place at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The main focus of the gathering was the panel discussion on "Demand for Cotton Products in the Economic Crisis". On the panel were representatives of textile-based sectors like fabric research or fabric development as well as denim development and jeans manufacturing, but also the cotton research sector. The main idea was that - at least in the US market - quality is of core importance. The end consumer considers cotton a high-priced quality fiber despite the fact that man-made fiber can be more expensive.
For more information on the important subject of sustainable cotton, please visit www.textileworld.com.
May 12, 2009