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GBR at risk of toxic pesticides

By Matthew Stansbery Posted Aug 16, 2011 06:00 AM
A new report put out by the Australian Government targets the Sugar Cane industry and its impacts upon the Great Barrier Reef. The research behind the report found that nearly 12% of farmers were utilizing practices deemed harmful to the GBR.
GBR at risk of toxic pesticides

Satellite imagery shows major sediment runoff after Queensland flooding. NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Sugar Cane is one of Australia's top agricultural productions, but the industry is receiving criticism and a lot more oversight from the government as of late.

Following the ground fall of Hurricane Yasi in northern Queensland earlier this year coupled with heavy flooding, sugar cane pesticides have washed down the hills into the ocean, blanketing the GBR with 28,000 kilograms of toxic runoff.  With pesticides found at toxic levels and as far inside the GBR as 60km (38 miles), Australia is having a hard time protecting its World Heritage-listed natural wonder.

The agricultural industry has thus far responded with the stance it has improved upon the use of pesticide and that positive changes have been made over the past years, but these findings are an obvious indictment of the sugar cane production.  While the government agrees the agricultural industry has been using more environmentally friendly methods, the report states more progress is required for the health of the GBR.  The agricultural industry has been given until September 30 to make a case to national regulators for the continued use of the weed-killing pesticide Diuron.

The Queensland government is investing $175 million over five years to implement a reef plan, of which $50 million will directly support reef protection laws and research.

You can read the media release at

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