September 19, 2023

64% of global agricultural land threatened by pesticides

A study by Nature Geoscience created a global model map that shows pollution risks in 168 countries, based on 92 chemicals commonly used in agricultural pesticides.

The study was based on the risk these chemicals pose to soil, atmospheric, surface water and groundwater environments.

The results revealed that 64 percent of the agriculture and food crops produced in these areas were at risk of pesticide pollution, with almost a third of the areas considered high risk.

Asian countries such as China, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines were found to be the largest land regions with the highest pollution risk. Many of these countries are considered “food bowl” nations on which the world’s population depends for their food sources, creating serious problems.

“Our study found that 64 percent of the world’s arable land is threatened by pesticide pollution. 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 Fiona Tang, research associate at the University of Sydney and senior author of study.

Although the ocean region has a low risk of pesticide pollution, Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin is considered a region of high concern due to water scarcity issues and a high level of biodiversity, says Fedrico Maggi, co-author and associate professor of the School of Civil Engineering. and the Sydney Institute of Agriculture.

Pesticides can run off into surface and ground water, polluting major water bodies and affecting their use as a resource. The study reflects growing concern that the overuse of pesticides is destabilizing ecosystems and negatively impacting the humans and animals that depend on these water sources.

While the world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, global pesticide use is also expected to increase.

“Although the protection of food production is essential for human development, reducing pollution by pesticides is just as crucial to protect the biodiversity that maintains the health and functions of soils, thus contributing to food security”, Tang said.

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