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Now It's Pesticides!

Farah Hancock reports in today's Newsroom  on the penetration of major pesticide types in streams all over the country - particularly it seems in regions where dairy intensification has taken place.

"Two streams in Waikato and one in Otago contained six pesticides and 78 percent of the 36 streams tested contained two or more, some of which are banned overseas. 

In some streams, concentration levels of pesticides exceeded levels considered safe for fish.

University of Otago professor Christoph Matthaei, who co-authored a study into pesticides presence in streams, said groundwater monitoring was regularly completed but streams and rivers were not tested for pesticides."

“This lack of knowledge on the distribution of pesticides and their concentrations in our waterways needs to be addressed. Not only are our freshwater fish species at risk, but so too are the animals they eat - aquatic insects such as mayflies and other invertebrates.”

The study tested 36 streams in agricultural areas over one spring and summer. Matthaei worries that due to a record-breaking drought, the levels detected were an under-estimation of normal levels. He would like to repeat the tests on at least 200 streams for a full year.'

Seven pesticides were targeted in the study. These were atrazine, chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, diazinon, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam.

Around 86 percent of streams contained chlorpyrifos, a substance banned in the United States, several European countries and in residential New Zealand."

Environmental Protection Authority CEO Dr Alan Freeth indicated last year that:

"To be honest, we really don't know what is out there".

Hancock reports that an AgResearch study showed that in 2004, 1278 tonnes of pesticide was spread over pastural land - around 38% of which ended up on dairy pasture to combat grass grubs, weevils and beetles. Also, that about 76% of our fish species are threatened with extinction, along with 33% of plants which rely on fresh water, and 25 % of native freshwater invertebrates.

And here is the crunch!

"Without pesticides, the intensification of agriculture could not have happened. "


"Matthaei thinks pesticide levels in water is a topic that's gone under the radar while nutrient run-off, algal blooms and sedimentation has been gaining attention.“I’m guessing with pesticides it will probably take 10 years of research effort as well, talking to policy-makers, talking to politicians""




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