August 15, 2011

Pesticides Damaging Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is being damaged by the use of agricultural pesticides, claims a new Australian government report on water quality at the World Heritage site.

According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), the report shows that more than 60,000 pounds of pesticides leak into the Great Barrier Reef each year, while the government has deemed that the water in the reef is "moderate" in quality.

The report card, which was released on Friday, was based on data collected from 2008 and 2009 and did not include the effects of recent natural disasters, including flooding in Queensland.

Furthermore, according to Nick Bryant of BBC News, the study concluded that farmers needed to exercise greater care in their use of these pest-killing chemicals, as "nearly one-quarter of horticulture producers and 12% of pastoral farmers were using practices deemed unacceptable by the industry."

"Pesticides of toxic concentrations have been detected 38 miles inside the reef," which is located on the northeastern coast of Australia and is home to the world's largest collection of coral reefs, the International Business Times reported on Saturday.

The AAP notes that the government found that 14 million metric tons of sediment, created by human activities, are washed into the UN-recognized natural wonder annually. Most of that comes from cattle farms located in the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions of Queensland.

"There have been calls from conservationists to limit the use of pesticides and to ban certain weed killers," Bryant said. "But sugar cane producers have argued that there are no alternatives to adequately protect their crops."

"The report comes as cane growers win an additional six weeks to convince the national regulator they should be able to continue to use the weed-killing pesticide Diuron," the AAP added.

The Australian wire service reports that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) had planned to suspend the use of Diuron this week, due to its effects on waterways. However, that ruling has been placed on hold until at least September 30, so that the industry can have adequate time to prepare a case for the pesticide's use.


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