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Fertilizers and pesticides abuse in agricolture: economic repercussions in Central Eastern Europe

by Michele Tempera


Since the last century, some of the worst plant diseases and parasites were defeated by new kinds of herbicides and pesticides. This led to the long awaited food security in the countries of western Europe and an improved productivity of cultivated land in Eastern Europe. As for today, in the region considered, the chemical agents in agriculture are not only a key trait of present day farming, but are also seen as a vital part of the strategy to enhance the agricultural sector in those nations which are still lagging behind their potential yearly harvest amount.
The total number and quantity of chemical substances used in agriculture has continued to increase since the post-war period on and it is growing still.This trend is causing many side effects to the economy, humans, nature, climate, ecosystems and animals in the region. The analysis of the detrimental factors connected to herbicides and pesticides in the intensive farming model is important to assess a sustainability and financial balance for the states involved in this phenomenon now and, most of all, for the years to come.
In first place, the issue of water is essential because of the role it plays in every human activity. The chemical agents sink through the fields and into canals towards the underground water reserves and rivers. In this way the water-bearing stratums are slowly polluted and a vital element is ruined in an almost permanent manner. On the other hand, the same agents are carried downstream by rivers, poisoning life and natural balance along their course, with a significant effect on the oceanic areas where the rivers end.
Another fundamental concern is represented by the impoverishment of soil and the diminishing fertility of industrially cultivated fields. The common use fertilizers is the main reason behind the loss of productivity of the earth, which in turn must be artificially enhanced with growing amounts of chemical products. Inside this vicious circle the soil is loosing its natural properties which must be constantly compensated by an artificial improvement of the efficiency of fertilizers at the expense of health and economic costs. In this case, the impending risk for the economies of Eastern Europe is of endangered the security of supplies and the safety of food produced in agriculture. The reduction of the land fertility is frightening but now almost ignored by the competent institutions of the area. However, the long term effects on economy, future production of food and sovereignty of every state can be disastrous if not treated appropriately in advance.
The diffusion of pesticides and herbicides in Eastern Europe is causing two other kind of troubles. By promoting the pervasive utilization of chemical products in farming, new parasites and invasive plants resistant to the agents currently used, are appearing and developing. In the near future the farmers will need stronger pesticides and herbicides, which in turn will have a heavier impact on human health, biodiversity and nature. The other rising problem is the export of outdated pesticides from eastern Europe to poorer countries which do not have to respect the EU set of laws established for the protection of environment. Moreover the loosened inspection systems on this subject in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe may lead to the use of illegal products or prohibited quantities of legal agents to bring down farming operations costs.

Original title: Fertilizers and pesticides abuse in agricolture: economic repercussions in Central Eastern Europe


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