ISSUE 1: The hidden cost of Chems

We're marking the start of Fashion Revolution Week by launching a series of animations we've been working on, aimed at raising awareness of some important issues in today's fashion industry.

With the creative mind of artist Daryl Rainbow and the hard work of the CAFIN team, this series of 5 videos aims to breakdown difficult topics through creative and artistic means.

Our first video explores issues regarding multinational agro-company products can have on cotton farmers. 🌱

Having visited the farms where CAFIN’s cotton is produced in Yavatmal, India, in 2016, we have a special place for those individuals who work at every level of the cotton farming process.   


Genetically modified (GM) seeds, pesticides and fertilizers are often sold to smallholder cotton farmers at a cheap price, by major (nasty, in my opinion) multinational companies such as Monsanto. Despite regulatory efforts, poor pesticide and fertiziler practices continue in the production of cotton. In less regulated countries, cotton farming practices may lead to significant environmental impacts, such as:

  • The diversion of waterways;
  • A high level of water consumption;
  • Conversion of natural habitat for agricultural use;
  • Pollution of waterways from the use of agrochemicals like pesticides. 

Nasty chems

Bad for planet: Pesticides can also be absorbed by plant’s entire system, from roots to fruits and flowers, and can even survive into the developing seed. Along with eliminating the pests cotton farmers choose to target, they also eliminate other species that aren’t the target. They eliminate the natural enemies of the targeted pests, which reduces biodiversity by interfering with an ecosystem. 😞 

Bad for people: In terms of the impact these chemicals can have only those working in the industry, the consequences can be enourmous. Many of the chemicals in used by cotton farmers are banned in the west, yet most Indian workers toil barefoot and without masks. Children can also be found applying pesticides, and there are problems in the routine use of personal protective equipment - a lack of adequate equipment and knowledge about appropriate pesticide handling is thought to be a significant factor in both illness and death caused by pesticide poisoning.

Pesticides are a major global killer. Nearly 1,000 people die every day from acute pesticide poisoning and many more suffer from chronic ill health, such as cancers and leukemia, neurological diseases and reproductive problems including infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. Manifestations may also include:

  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation and rashes
  • Eye irritation
  • Loss of concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Liver damage
  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Cancers(leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer)

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