Dr K Rashbehari Singh
Contd from previous issue
Toxic residues in animal products : Toxic residues of drugs may be present in the edible products of animals treated with veterinary drugs. The chemicals used in livestock husbandry practices include antioxidants, antifungal agents, disinfectants, pesticides etc., and these are also a cause of public health concern.
IMPACTS OF FARMING PRACTICES ON PUBLIC HEALTH
Water pollution: Water pollution, resulting from the conventional agricultural and animal farming practices is wide reaching, affecting both surface and groundwater sources, in farm communities and those located downstream. Water quality standards for agriculture-related pollution levels include microbial pathogens, nutrient pollution and pesticides. Reducing excessive fertilizer use and using proper application and storage practices are integral to addressing water pollution.
Air pollution : A significant source of air pollution is agriculture. Use of nitrogen fertilizers and animal waste release ammonia, which when airborne, combines with combustion emissions from vehicles and industry to form particulate matter. Particulate matter can be coarse or fine, with fine matter being more harmful because it can enter the lungs and bloodstream. Exposure to particulate matter is associated with a range of health issues, from coughing and shortness of breath to severe asthma and premature death from cardiovascular diseases. Large animal farming operations are a source of ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.
Climate health and greenhouse gas emissions : Social and environmental determinants of health including air and water quality and food security are influenced by climate change. Through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, agriculture and related activities contribute significantly to climate change. GHG are gases in earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. The total accumulated emissions associated with agriculture constitutes approximately one-third of GHG emissions worldwide. These emissions result directly from agricultural practices and indirectly from associated activities including the manufacture of inputs (fertilizer production, which is high energy intensive) and packaging and transportation. The main forms of animal farming andagriculture related emissions are methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobial resistance is a significant public health concern. Antimicrobial resistant bacteria is transferred from the animals to the environment (and human) when manure from animals treated with antibiotics is applied to crops or run off from fields enters waterways. Inclusion of antibiotics in the feed of poultry and livestock as feed additive also results in the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Vulnerability of food system : Mono-cropping practices increase vulnerability of crops to pests and supports pesticide use. Pesticide harm wildlife and beneficial insects (such as pollinators), that are integral of food production. The use of chemical inputs affects soil acidity, which, in turn, affects productivity. Extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rain and drought impact the quality and quantity of crop yields, damage agricultural lands and impact food distribution channels.
LINKAGES BETWEEN ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND HUMAN WELL-BEING
Ecosystemisa community or group of living organisms that live in and interact with each other in a specific environment. Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems. Human well-being is highly dependent upon improving the management of Earth’s ecosystems to ensure their conservation and sustainable use. Ecosystems provide services such as the provision of food, water, fuel and fiber, and climate regulation, on which Nations and people rely to earn income from agriculture, fishing, forestry, tourism and other activities. For enduring economic development and improvement of human welfare, sustainable use of these ecosystem services and natural resource assets is increasingly recognized as a key factor. Well-being of poor communities is tied to the provision of ecosystem services.
Ecosystems must be protected and restored not only for the good of nature but also for the communities that depend on them. Nature-positive businesses can provide cost-effective, business-friendly jobs that stimulate the rural economy without harming the environment.
The writer is Retired Deputy Director (Extension Education), Central Agricultural University, Imphal Email :[email protected]