Bayer CropScience has launched its new e3 sustainable cotton program, which the company says provides stringent guidelines for farmers in the United States who grow Certified FiberMax or authentic Stoneville cotton.
Bayer’s Certified FiberMax and Stoneville programs make it possible for buyers to identify where their cotton was grown using a certification database maintained by the company.
Bayer says the e3 program will benefit mills and brands in three key ways:
- e3 is socially equitable to address issues of working/living conditions of growers and laborers, needs of the surrounding rural farm community, as well as consumer health and safety aspects.
- e3 is economically viable to meet the individual economic needs of farmers, farm families, farm workers and customers, and to help make farms financially competitive enterprises that are consistently profitable year over year.
- e3 is an environmentally responsible program encouraging reduced use of water, land and energy while maintaining productivity.
While farmer enrollment is voluntary, once enrolled, farmers make a commitment to the program and to continuous improvement in productivity, environmental quality, and personal well-being, Bayer says.
Farm performance is self-evaluated though the Fieldprint Calculator, an online tool designed by Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and verified with in-season and post-harvest third-party audits. During harvest, bales are entered into the database and the certified product is sent to the brand.
The Fieldprint Calculator self-assessment shows farmers the impact of farming practices on natural resources, helping them operate more efficiently and establishing a point of comparison with local data averages. This allows farmers to identify areas where sustainability improvements can be made, including productivity, land use, soil loss, irrigation water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
"The concept of sustainable cotton grew out of the desire of farmers, textile producers, brands and retailers to meet consumer demand for a renewable source of cotton," said Brent Crossland, Fiber Development Manager for Bayer CropScience. "Bayer CropScience is proud to bring a new and comprehensive option to the table that addresses the various and complex aspects of sustainable cotton."
The e3 program is the latest addition to a growing, multi-industry effort to increase the amount of responsibly grown cotton. Last fall, the Better Cotton Initiative — which involves more than 100,000 farmers in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey and includes adidas, Ikea and H&M as members, reported that their farmers have reduced their usage of chemical fertilizers by 30%, and water and pesticides by 50%, since 2005; and in May, the Responsible Sourcing Network released To the Spinner: Forging a Chain to Responsible Cotton Sourcing, to help brands and businesses understand the importance of traceability and transparency and eliminate problems from their value chain.