31. August 2020 / Facts Check: Pesticides

Cotton is often accused of high water and pesticide use in the same breath. Yet, what does it mean “high” or “vast quantities” and in comparison to what?

The Cotton Bollworm, one of the most devastating pests for cotton.
Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Pesticides are used in cotton production, especially to kill bollworms and white flys since they could destroy a large part of the farmer’s crop. There is no exact figure of the applied amount; pest infestation varies strongly in those approximately 80 producing countries. But its share can be guessed based on sales: According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee the share of pesticides used in the global cotton production equals 6.35 percent.

As a matter of fact, pesticides are inputs that boost the costs of cotton production. In general, they are applied considering economic aspects. Within the frame of integrated pest management, many farmers rely on a broad selection of methods on pest management. Pesticides are only one part of it.

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