From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published December 8, 2011 09:53 AM

European Pesticides in Waterways

Insecticides enter rivers through runoff from fields and to a lesser extent when they drift into the water during application. Contamination levels have been rising in many central and southern European countries for 20 years with the biggest growth expected in areas that now have relatively low agriculture pesticide pollution, the Helmholtz study shows, based on projections through 2090. Insecticides enter rivers through runoff from fields and to a lesser extent when they air drift into the water during application. Contamination levels have been rising in many central and southern European countries for 20 years with the biggest growth expected in areas that now have relatively low agriculture pesticide pollution based on projections through 2090.

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Liess and his fellow Leipzig researchers say climate conditions such as warming in Scandinavia and the Baltics - will require farmers to use more and more insecticides to protect crops as ecological conditions change and new pests arrive.

This will have devastating effects on biodiversity as farmers fend off invading insects while potential pesticide and excess fertilizer water contamination kills native species that are part of the normal food chain for birds, fish and other stream wildlife. The researchers estimate that in the decades ahead, some 40% of Europe’s waterways will be degraded.

The researchers recommend a reduction in pesticide through organic farming, but the most effective approach may be to create buffer areas along streams to filter out chemical runoff.

In its proposals for the next Common Agriculture Policy, the European Commission wants to encourage farmers who use buffer areas and who switch to crop rotation, measures that would reduce fertilizer and pesticide use.

The proposals, if approved, would take effect in 2014. The Commission’s greening plan for agriculture is facing criticism at a time of rising global demand for food and the inevitable conflicts between conservation (to prevent environmental stress) and production (to prevent starvation).

The EU has long regulated nitrogen pollution from fuels and pesticides, and has sought to protect waterways, but conservation groups contend that pesticides continue to pose a threat to air and water quality.

The environmental group Greenpeace says water resource pollution goes beyond just application of pesticides, arguing there are broader environmental effects.

"The industrial farming methods that are used to grow much of the world’s food are highly dependent on oil, not only for fueling machinery but also to manufacture the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain high crop yields," says Julian Oram, a political adviser to Greenpeace International on agricultural matters.

For further information: http://www.euractiv.com/cap/study-warns-worsening-pesticide-pollution-news-509529

Photo: http://www.pesticidereform.org/img/original/rigspray%20copy.jpg

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