Friday, July 14, 2006

Hemp is a fibre plant that is illegal in some areas, but cotton may be added to the list of banned crops in the future, at least in Australia. The water-hungry fiend is not making friends down under, and no wonder, it dries up the land. It also attracts pests, and this in turn makes the wheels go round in the pesticide companies, which makes it unwelcome all over the world.
In Senegal, some farmers have resorted to the rather unusual practice of collecting cow urine, which they ferment and then use as an insecticide for cotton. This may sound morbid, but it is better than paying for chemicals which poison the farmers. One pest in that country is Whitefly (Bemissia tabacci), which has proven resistant to a number of complex compounds including Politrine N, Asodrine, Sherpa Monochrotophos, Nivacron and Tamron 400CE.
In other countries an environmentally friendly substance used in cotton pest control is neem, a plant which is used medicinally for a range of problems including malaria and dandruff. Leaves of this plant are used in avian medicine, with some falconers rubbing the leaves on the tarsii of their birds which have been scratched when running after prey in the bushes.
World-wide, there has been a movement to promote organic cotton. However, the water use and is an issue that all the piss taking neem leaf rubbing idealists cannot get around. If we are to survive on this planet, we need to stop relying on cotton. Another issue is the fact that cotton fields attract pests, an example of which is the recent migration of Whitefly from Pakistan to India, striking at Indian cotton, the most important crop in the country.
To wean ourselves off this cotton addiction, we need to look to other fibre plants, and hemp is perhaps #1 on that list. It smothers weeds when it grows, kills pests, requires little or no pesticides, and can be grown with less water than cotton. It also produces more than just fibre, so a crop grown for fibre can also produce paper pulp and/or seed, much superior nutritionally to cotton seed.
Of course, there will be a fight over this, with lobbyists in Washington trying to screw the American people into using their land and water for cotton, of which one million acres are grown in California alone. All over the world, pesticide companies will be screaming, trying to maintain a market for their lethal compounds whilst people die from using them. It was much this same crowd that got us into WWII, the IG Farben and Du Pont crowd, which found a market for their substances in the Third Reich. Now a similar crowd is back on the prowl, ready to kill us all.
[for related posts on cotton, use the key word search to this blog]

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