According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, water pollution from agriculture costs billions of dollars a year in the developed world, with costs expected to rise in developing nations like China and India.
Founded in 1961, the OECD is an international economic organization dedicated to stimulating economic progress and world trade while promoting democracy and the market economy. The organization promotes policies that will achieve sustainable economic growth in member countries and contribute to sound economic expansion in member and non-member nations.
It is in this capacity that the OECD released their report on water pollution. For the past several years, international organizations like the United Nations have reported that global agricultural production must reform in order to remain sustainable into the future. Sustainable agricultural growth and development, the OECD argued, cannot continue in the face of the costs associated with increased water pollution and ecological degradation.
According to the OECD, over the next 50 years, the number of lakes at risk of harmful algae blooms, prompted, in part, by excess phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from farms, will increase 20 percent. As pollution increases, so does the economic cost of treating water to remove pesticides and phosphorus, paying farmers to properly store waste and fertilizer, and attempting to block contaminants from reaching waterways. In addition, as water pollution worsens, there is a risk that drinking water could also be contaminated, increasing health costs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer