23 June 2017 – Nitrogen and metals, like lead and mercury, can strain farmable land by polluting soil, and damaging plants, and ultimately, posing risks to food security, according to the United Nations agriculture agency.
Soil pollution due to human activities that leave excess chemicals in soils took centre stage at the 5th Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly held at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) headquarters this week in Rome.
“Soil pollution is an emerging problem, but, because it comes in so many forms, the only way we can reduce knowledge gaps and promote sustainable soil management is to intensify global collaboration and build reliable scientific evidence,” said Ronald Vargas, FAO soils officer and Secretary of the GSP.
Excess nitrogen and trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can impair plant metabolism and cut crop productivity, ultimately putting pressure on arable land. When they enter the food chain, such pollutants also pose risks to food security, water resources, rural livelihoods and human health, underscored FAO