According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition:
"Cotton has been spun, woven, and dyed since prehistoric times. Itclothed the people of ancient India, Egypt, and China. Hundreds of years before the Christian era cotton textiles were woven in Indiawith matchless skill, and their use spread to theMediterraneancountries. In the 1st cent.Arabtraders brought fine muslin andcalico to Italy and Spain. TheMoorsintroduced the cultivation of cotton into Spain in the 9th cent. Fustians and dimities were woventhere and in the 14th cent. in Venice and Milan, at first with a linenwarp. Little cotton cloth was imported toCultivation
Successful cultivation of cotton requires a longfrost-free period, plentyof sunshine, and a moderate rainfall, usually from 600 to 1200 mm (24to 48 inches).Soilsusually need to be fairly heavy, although the level of nutrientsdoes not need to be exceptional. In general, these conditionsare met within the seasonally dry tropics and subtropics in the Northernand Southern hemispheres, but a large proportion of the cotton growntoday is cultivated in areas with less rainfall that obtain the water fromirrigation. Production of the crop for a given year usually starts soonafter harvesting the preceding autumn. Planting time in spring in the Northern hemisphere varies from the beginning of February to the beginning of June. The area of the United States known as theSouthPlainsis the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world. It isheavily dependent onirrigationwater drawn from theOgallala Aquifer .Cotton is a thirsty crop, and aswater resourcesget tighter around theworld, economies that rely on it face difficulties and conflict, as well as potential environmental problems.
England before the 15th cent., although small amounts were obtainedchiefly for candlewicks. By the 17th cent. theEast India Companywas bringing rare fabrics from India. Native Americansskillfully spun andwove cotton into fine garments and dyed tapestries. Cotton fabrics foundinPeruviantombs are said to belong to a pre-Inca culture. In color andtexture the ancient Peruvian and Mexican textiles resemble those foundin Egyptian tombs."According to the Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia, the earliestcultivation of cotton discovered thus far in the Americas occurred inMexico, some 8,000 years ago. The indigenous species was
which is today the most widely planted species of cotton in theworld, constituting about 90% of all production worldwide. The greatestdiversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed byAustralia and Africa.Genetically modified(GM) cottonwas developed to reduce the heavy reliance on pesticides. The bacteriumBacillus thuringiensisnaturally produces a chemical harmful only to asmall fraction of insects, most notably the larvae of moths and butterflies, beetles, andflies, and harmless to other forms of life. Thegene coding for BT toxin has been inserted into cotton, causing cotton to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues. In many regions the main pests in commercial cotton are lepidopteran larvae, which are killed bythe BT protein in the transgenic cotton that they eat. This eliminates theneed to use large amounts of broad-spectrum insecticides to killlepidopteran pests (some of which have developed pyrethroid