The cotton industry relies heavily on chemicals, such as herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides, although a very small number of farmers are moving toward an organic model of production, and organic cotton products are now available for purchase at limited locations. These are popular for baby clothes and diapers. Under most definitions, organic products do not use genetic engineering. All natural cotton products are known to be both sustainable and hypoallergenic.
Historically, in North America, one of the most economically destructive pests in cotton production has been the boll weevil. Due to the US Department of Agriculture's highly successful Boll Weevil Eradication Program , this pest has been eliminated from cotton in most of the United States. This program, along with the introduction of genetically engineered Bt cotton, has allowed a reduction in the use of synthetic insecticides.
Other significant global pests of cotton include the pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella; the chili thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis; the cotton seed bug, Oxycarenus hyalinipennis; the tarnish plant bug, Lygus lineolaris; and the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, Xanthomonas citri subsp. malvacearum.