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Organic Cotton Production Skyrockets

The amount of organic cotton grown by farmers worldwide in 2007/08 increased 152% over the prior year period, according to Organic Exchange.

"Approximately 60% of the total represents expansion of known projects, while the remaining 40% represents data from new projects becoming certified or previously unknown projects," said Organic Exchange (OE), an organization that promotes organic agriculture.

The reported volume was 145,872 metric tons, or 668,581 bales, the group said — up from 57,932 metric tons, or 265,517 bales in 2006/07, which was valued at more than $1 billion.

The data is included in the Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008, which will be presented at the OE 6th Global Conference and Marketplace in Porto, Portugal, Oct. 14-17.

The report was underwritten by C&A, ICCO, Martin-Fabert Foundation, Nordstrom, the ComMark Foundation, and OE member companies.

John Elkington, an author on sustainable development and corporate responsibility, will deliver the keynote. There will be a tour of the Teviz Group mill in Guimarães, Portugal, one of the first mills in the world to be certified to the new Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).

OE has a bullish outlook.

"Farmers and retailers are starting to work hand in hand to drive the conversion to and expansion of the organic cotton market," said LaRhea Pepper, OE executive director. And Simon Ferrigno, OE Farm Development Program director, said, "With forward contracts, price security, and increased research and education, the amount of organic cotton production will continue to increase rapidly."

The top 10 organic cotton producing nations, in order, for the 2007/08 cotton year were: India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, the United States, Uganda, Peru, Egypt and Burkina Faso, the report stated, with India taking over Turkey's longstanding lead position.

Organic cotton production has grown to an estimated 0.55% of global cotton production, said OE, which defines organic production as "based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers or genetically-modified seeds."

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