Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from the cotton plant. Cotton is one of the oldest fibers under human cultivation, with traces of cotton over 7,000 years old recovered from archaeological sites. Cotton is also one of the most used natural fibers in existence today, with consumers from all classes and nations wearing and using cotton in a variety of applications. Thousands of acres globally are devoted to the production of cotton, whether it be new world cotton, with longer, smoother fibers, or the shorter and coarser old world varieties.
Cotton also carries environmental controversy, particularly in the developing world, where dangerous pesticides are heavily employed. Cotton is subject to infestation, and therefore many growers heavily douse the plant in pesticides that are harmful to human and animal health, as well as herbicides to eliminate competition for resources. A number of producers also genetically modify the plant, which many outside the industry view as a questionable practice. Cotton also has very large water requirements, which may place stress on nations with limited water resources. In the late 20th century, there was a push for organic, sustainable cotton grown and harvested without the use of pesticides and human exploitation. This cotton is significantly more expensive than conventionally farmed cotton, however, and may not be practical for most consumers