Friday, December 9, 2011

Agriculture is increasing pollution of Europe's streams

According to the latest study by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research European streams are becoming increasingly polluted with the excessive use of insecticides in agriculture. An insecticide is a type pesticide used against insects.

The researchers believe that there will be around 40% of Europe's surface area in which streams will no longer have a good ecological status due to agricultural pesticides with most affected areas being Scandinavia, the Baltic countries and the Central Europe.

The climate change will play major role in the increased use of pesticides. The expected warmer temperatures will result in an increase in the rate of development of insects and their rate of survival in winter which means that agriculture will have to use even more insecticides to protect crops from many pest insect species.

Under the current scientific scenario the use of insecticides will more than double in Europe by 2090 compared to 1990 levels causing huge pollution of Europe's streams.

The possible solutions to tackle this issue do not only include using fewer insecticides but also the creation of so called buffer zones along the streams which would reduce the exposure of insecticides to streams.

The large quantity of pesticides is being washed by rain from the fields and into rivers and buffer zones could stop these pollutants entering streams. They could also serve as some sort of refuge camp for threatened species, from where they can recolonize.

The modern agriculture is unthinkable without the use of insecticides and insecticides are no doubt one of the major factors behind the increased agricultural productivity in the last 100 years.

However, there is also a major downside of using insecticides as they can irreversibly alter ecosystems, and especially because many of them are toxic to both human and animals.

There are some scientists who also believe that the increased use of insecticides and pesticides in general is the main reason behind the recent huge loss of bees. The loss of bees that pollinate plants will cause a significant reduction in crop yields.

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