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There is “a growing concern” over microplastics pollution in farm soils, Kate S. Petersen reported for Environmental Health News this week. Although we have long since known about the effects of microplastics in the ocean, this article showed that “most microplastics are actually accumulating on land, including agricultural areas.”
Why This Matters: Microplastics, as Petersen noted, change the properties of soils, both in a physical and biological sense. As Mary Beth Kirkham, a plant physiologist and distinguished professor of agronomy noted that in her experiments, “The particulate plastic appeared to clog the soil pores, prevent aeration of the soil, and cause…the roots to die.” Although we don’t know the “full impact of microplastics contamination in agricultural soils,” burgeoning research suggests that microplastics can pass through plant— and, when ingested by people potentially impacting our immune systems.
Banning the Beads: There are some places that are moving forward in limiting microplastics and microbeads. In particular, the EU said next year they would “seek a ban following a proposal from EU agency the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prevent the addition of microplastics to certain products sold in Europe,” as Euractiv reported.
While ECHA claimed that was to make sure the restriction “could be enforced,” the European Environmental Bureau noted that this “gives manufacturers a perverse incentive to switch production from micro to nano plastic, which may be more harmful to human and animal health because it can more easily get inside and harm living cells.”
We’ve also seen from the Obama-era Microbead-Free Waters Act in the United States, that bans which focus on eliminating plastic microbeads from a single industry are too narrow and allow other manufacturers to keep using them in myriad other consumer products.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Pedro Bay Corp., an Alaska Native group, has struck a blow to the controversial Pebble Mine project, which had promised to be the largest gold mine in North America. Located near Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay, development on the site threatened to damage the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, […]
A battle is raging in Nevada as the U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service announces it will be listing Tiehm’s buckwheat flower as an endangered species, striking a blow to a lithium mining project in the region. Lithium is required for the batteries that power electric vehicles, which the government is making significant investments in to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. But environmentalists argue that the Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine in Nevada will do more harm than good.
Why This Matters: The world is facing two major crises: global temperature rise and biodiversity loss. In the U.S., investing in renewable energy and electric power has been identified by experts as the quickest path to net-zero emissions and preventing catastrophic temperature rise.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The American agriculture system is in need of an overhaul. A combination of more erratic weather resulting from climate change and years of soil depletion make it nearly impossible to simply continue monoculture farming. An approach called regenerative agriculture could change the system. But even as farmers and agriculture […]
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