Improper use of pesticides and other chemicals in this industry is polluting the water, causing damage to the economy and the health of millions of people, according to a new report.
On the occasion of the World Water Week, held these days in Stockholm, the International Institute for Water Management (IWMI) and the UN Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), They have advanced part of a global study on how agriculture affects water quality.
Increasing food production has been achieved in recent decades by intensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a market that moves every year more than 35.000 million and is growing rapidly in countries like Argentina, Malaysia, South Africa and Pakistan, according to the report.
In emerging economies is starting to make a high use of pesticides that they are prohibited elsewhere, while in developed countries they have banned the most dangerous pesticides ", expert says Javier Mateo-Sagasta IWMI.
States that in developing countries still banned pesticides are used and it is not known how to store them well. "Suddenly, containers with residues of these pesticides are cleaned in rivers. It is becoming a serious problem ", said Mateo-Sagasta, urging prevent these substances (toxic and readily biodegradable) reach water bodies.
In most rich countries and many emerging, the Agriculture, responsible for 70 % of water withdrawals in the world, It has outperformed the industry and urban centers like major factor in the degradation of water due to dumping of chemical, organic material, sediment, nitrates, pathogens and other substances.
According to the report, the 38 % of water bodies in the European Union they are under pressure from agricultural pollution; US agriculture is the main cause of pollution in rivers and streams, the second and third wetlands in lakes; and in China this activity is behind almost all groundwater polluted by nitrogen.
The expert says, in livestock, the main problem stems from improper management of excreta of the animals, They are containing pathogens and "substantial burden of organic matter, if it ends in rivers, consumes oxygen is dissolved ", among many other problems associated with intensive industrial exploitation.
For pesticides in aquaculture
Something similar happens in aquaculture with excess nutrients and organic matter which occurs when there is a part of feed that fish do not eat and just polluting the water. "It is important to dispense feed very well, food that is not consumed and excrete waste minimization ", Mateo-Sagasta says, and calls for farmers to adopt safe practices, for what should be provided with the knowledge and incentives.
The study also makes echo the new contaminants in the last twenty years they have emerged in the form of animal medicines such as antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones, which pass from farms to ecosystems and drinking water sources, and contribute to an increase in antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Experts recommend, among other measures, optimize and limit the use of chemicals on crops to reduce the risk of water contamination, protection zones around farms and efficient irrigation systems to collecting the discharged water.