Lead Battery Soil Contamination in Africa and the Implications on Plant and Human Health

Globally, battery manufacturing and recycling plants have been identified as the major sources of soil lead contamination that have resulted in lead exposure to neighbouring communities via the accumulation of lead within plants.

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Masai child next to Opuntia stricta (© CABI)

Lead is naturally found in soil in relatively low concentrations (10-50 mg/kg) in which it is taken up by plants via the roots and accumulates within root cells as lead is used in low levels by plants. Excessive lead concentrations found within plants have been shown to reduce the functionality of morphological, biochemical and physiological functions as well as promoting deleterious effects. For more detailed information on the effects of lead on plant health, see here.

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Farmer Health: A Case Against Pesticides

Guest blog by Julie Potyraj; read her previous post on community health here

82074_01.jpgFor most of us, the point of choosing sustainably grown foods is to protect our own health and to minimize environmental damage. While these are important reasons for making better choices at the grocery store, what about the human side and the health of those who labor in the fields of the world? Can selecting foods that are grown more sustainably with methods such as integrated crop management also be more ethical?

To answer that question, we must start with the number 1.3 billion. That’s how many agricultural laborers there are in the world. Of that number, up to 41 million are affected every year as a result of pesticide poisoning. That means 32% of this group are harmed by the use of pesticides ever year. Continue reading

Assessing risks to make informed decisions for safeguarding the health of humans, animals and plants

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI Switzerland

WTO 1For the first time since 2000, the World Trade Organisation hosted an international workshop on developments in pest risk analysis (PRA) in October 2014. The previous workshop was held only four years after the signing of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). Under the SPS Agreement, countries have the sovereign right to maintain measures to ensure that food is safe for consumers and to prevent the spread of pests of animals and plants so long as the measures are not a disguised restriction on international trade. Any SPS measures that a country applies must be scientifically justified. As one speaker put it, “scientific justification is the heart of the SPS Agreement”. Measures that are based on international standards or pest risk analysis are deemed to be based on sound science. Above and beyond that, pest risk analysis matters to everyone – from farmers to foresters to consumers – because it is a tool by which governments identify and head off potential threats to the health of humans, animals and plants. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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