At Monsanto, we frequently discuss the impact of our work on food and animal feed supplies. However, there’s one crop that has an equally important but different impact on our lives – cotton.
Each day, billions of people around the world wake up, roll out of bed and put on clothes that reflect a piece of who we are. Many of these lives are touched each day – literally and figuratively – by cotton, which is grown on every habitable continent. From the sheets we sleep on to that favorite pair of blue jeans we take comfort in, the lint grown from cotton plants reaches far and wide.
For years, farmers struggled to provide large cotton harvests due to bollworms – or caterpillars that eat away at the plant as it forms lint. We developed Bt cotton, a genetically modified version of the plant, which uses a naturally-occurring protein to protect the plant from this pest. By growing Bt cotton, farmers use fewer crop protection tools on their fields and often experience a more bountiful harvest. Between 1996 and 2011, Bt cotton helped farmers grow 15.9 million metric tons of cotton lint more than if they had used traditional cotton seeds. That is equivalent to 15 billion pairs of jeans!
Thanks to Bt cotton, farmers around the world are providing more lint for clothing and household goods without using more land or resources. And in the midst of climate change, it’s more important than ever before that we arm farmers with the tools they need to provide for a growing population in a sustainable way.
National Cotton Council of America: https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/what-can-you-make.cfm
National Cotton Council of America: https://www.cotton.org/econ/cropinfo/production/production.cfm
Apparel Magazine: http://apparel.edgl.com/news/Parents-Choose-Cotton-for-Back-to-School,-Survey-Finds94404
USDA Report on Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States, Feb. 2014: http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1282246/err162.pdf