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‘Lions And Tigers And Bears…Oh, My!’

Carroll Smith

Carroll Smith

There were images evoked of the cotton ball diet, and baking with candle wax and a dirty crop and Indian farmer suicides. There was a boldface statement that screamed, “Cotton is not food,” followed by an ominous whisper, “It’s not a vegetable. It’s not a fruit. It’s not a grain.” And a random bully scare tactic thrown in that declared, “We must use regenerative organic farming if we are going to save our land and our bodies.” No lions and tigers and bears (Oh, my!) to run away from here. Instead, Vani Hari – the Food Babe blogger – warned her followers to avoid consuming none other than…cottonseed oil. Yes, you heard me right…cottonseed oil.

Unlike some companies that buckled under her self-serving, unscientific attacks, Cotton Incorporated took exception to them. In a well-researched rebuttal posted as a comment on the blog, the organization brought facts and science to the table. And for that effort, the cotton industry applauds. In its opening paragraph, Cotton Incorporated says, “The negative slant on cottonseed oil is supported by claims that are at best inaccurate and at worst, just plain wrong. I believe that you have been either misled or misinformed about cottonseed oil, as well as about cotton, in general.”

In response to “Cotton is not a food,” CI points out that the Food and Drug Administration regulates cotton as a food crop in the United States. And “although cotton is neither a fruit nor a vegetable, it is a seed crop; like sunflowers, soybeans or safflower. The FDA states in its Code of Federal Regulations: Title 21: Food and Drugs, Part 172, that ‘cottonseed products may be used for human consumption.’ As such, it is a subject to the same government oversight as any food.”

Cotton Incorporated also addresses cottonseed oil specifically. “According to the American Heart Association, unsaturated vegetable oils, like cottonseed oil, are ‘heart healthy’ when used in moderation….A 2012 study from Texas Women’s University has this to say: ‘We conclude that CSO (cottonseed oil) may lower cholesterol effectively, possibly making it a good candidate for inclusion in margarines and shortening, where it originated.’ ”

To read Hari’s Food Babe blog and Cotton Incorporated’s rebuttal in their entirety, go to the Web Exclusive posting at cottonfarming.com.

If you have comments, please send them to: Cotton Farming Magazine, 7201 Eastern Ave., Germantown, TN, 38138. Contact Carroll Smith via email at csmith@onegrower.com.