The conventional textile industry

The lack of sustainability in the global textile market is alarming and is only topped by the petroleum and gemstone industries. Not without reason, it were the social conditions found here, that shaped the meaning of the connotation "sweatshop", a term that for the first time sensitized a bigger public audience for the negative aspects of globalization. Some little tasty facts as an example:

child labor
• 25% of all worldwide used insecticides and 11% of all pesticides are used for the production of cotton even though the cultivation of cotton accounts for only 2.4% of agriculturally used areas
• Many of these plant protection agents are highly effective neurotoxins, having been in use as chemical weapons in the past.
• According to estimations of the WHO around 70 field workers are dying every day as the result of the application of pesticides and insecticides, the majority are children under the age of 14.
• An additional estimated 80 factory workers die every day because pesticide soaked cotton and fabric pollutes the air in warehouses and working areas.
• Since 1998 India alone saw 40.000 farmers committing suicide, trying to escape their debts encurred at biotechnology companies.
• According to estimations 450,000 children under the age of 14 work every day at Indian cotton farms in debt slavery and free of charge.
• Massive human rights violations are commonplace: confinement of textile workers in the dorm rooms after 10 p.m.,as well as corporal punishment and abuse.
• only 10-20% of all workers have an official contract (about 26,5 Mio.). The number of informal workers is estimated between 132 and 265 million, with a share of 80-90% women. Wages mostly don't even reach 1/3 of the national minimum wages and are often withheld up to 6 months. In most cases the joining of a labor union triggers immediate dismissal.

Actually the massive application of pesticides, chemicals and genetically manipulated seeds leads nowhere. By now, only a few years after the beginning of the "green revolution" that was pledged by the biotechnology industry, crop failure, resistand pests, depleted soils and defective fiber quality drove wages and price to the bottom.

Some additional information:

Conventional and eco-fair textile production in comparison (pdf 51kB)
Changes in Hazardous Substances in Cotton (pdf 925kB)
The deadly chemicals in cotton (pdf 4,7MB) 

The documentation "China Blue" with a moving report about production conditions in the Chinese textile industry (shockwave/flash necessary):




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