64% of global agricultural land at risk of pe

image: a world map reveals the areas at risk of pollution by pesticides
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Credit: Associate Professor Federico Maggi, Dr Fiona Tang, University of Sydney

The study, published in Geosciences of nature, produced a global model for mapping the risk of pollution caused by 92 chemicals commonly used in agricultural pesticides in 168 countries.

The study examined the risks to soil, atmosphere, and surface and groundwater.

The map also revealed that Asia is home to the largest land areas at high risk for pollution, with China, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines being the most at risk. Some of these regions are considered “food bowl” nations, feeding much of the world’s population.

University of Sydney research associate and study lead author Dr Fiona Tang said the widespread use of pesticides in agriculture – while increasing productivity – could have implications potential for the environment, human and animal health.

“Our study found that 64% of the world’s arable land is at risk of pollution from pesticides. This is important because the wider scientific literature has revealed that pollution from pesticides can have adverse effects on human health and the environment, ”said Dr Tang.

Pesticides can be transported to surface water and groundwater by runoff and infiltration, polluting water bodies, thereby reducing the use of water resources.

“Although Oceania’s farmland poses the lowest risk of pesticide pollution, Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin is considered a region of great concern both due to its water scarcity and water scarcity issues. its great biodiversity, ”said co-author, Associate Professor Federico Maggi of the Sydney School of Civil Engineering and Institute of Agriculture.

“Globally, our work shows that 34% of high-risk areas are in regions of high biodiversity, 19% in low- and lower-middle-income countries and 5% in areas with water scarcity” said Dr Tang.

There are fears that the overuse of pesticides could tip the balance, destabilize ecosystems and degrade the quality of the water sources on which humans and animals depend for survival.

Future prospects

Global pesticide use is expected to increase as the world’s population heads to 8.5 billion by 2030.

“In a warmer climate, as the world’s population increases, the use of pesticides is expected to increase to combat the possible increase in pest infestations and feed more people,” Associate Professor Maggi said.

Dr Tang said, “While protecting food production is essential for human development, reducing pesticide pollution is just as crucial for protecting the biodiversity that maintains soil health and functions, thus contributing food security. “

Co-author Professor Alex McBratney, Director of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture, University of Sydney, said: “This study shows that it will be important to carefully monitor residues on an annual basis to detect trends in order to manage and mitigate risks associated with pesticides. use.”

“We recommend a global strategy to transition to a sustainable global agricultural model that reduces food waste while reducing the use of pesticides,” said the authors of the article.

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DISCLOSURE:

This research was supported by the EnviroSphere research program at the University of Sydney. = The authors have no conflict of interest to declare


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Amalia H. Mercado