GFAR blog, Partnerships for impact

Soil pollution, a barrier for sustainable development


By Emir Šahinović, NextGen Plant Science Network

As the world evolves with the advent of new technologies and increasingly invasive agricultural practices, we continue to actively pursue the development of new types of industries while still dependent on existing ones.

Of course, the benefits to the human population from these new technologies and industries are abundant, but unfortunately, the use of an increasing number of natural resources also has adverse consequences on our planet. In addition to the detriment of our air and water, great damage befalls the soil, which, if not remedied, can ultimately lead to the inability to produce healthy foods. Developing countries and others with high mineral resources will be most affected.

Combating this problem is of utmost importance because we must first take into account that 95% of food products originate from the soil, and by destroying this resource, we create the problem of producing insufficient quantities of food for the growing population. Land care is crucial if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, considering four of the 17 goals are directly related to land and its ability to sustain human life.

To understand the importance of land health, we need to consider certain facts:

  • Healthy soil means healthy food. If the soil is contaminated, there is a good chance it could become dangerous to human health.
  • Healthier soil means more biodiversity. Did you know that in 20g of earth, there are more living organisms than the number of humans on earth? Nowhere in nature are organisms as closely stationed as they are in soil.
  • Biodiversity is very important for the health of planet Earth as it enables many species to survive and adapt to environmental changes.
  • Healthier soil means cleaner water. Land is a crucial source for drinking water. Soil captures, stores and filters water, providing clean drinking water.
  • Healthier soil means more medicine. The most famous antibiotics, such as penicillin, are derived from soil microorganisms, and over 500 antibiotics originate from soils.

Although the soil is becoming increasingly polluted, this trend can be stopped in various ways. When it comes to farming, good land management is important, which involves reducing pesticide use, rotating crops, and other good agricultural practices.

Industry and other pollutants must focus on good waste management, which is a major problem that has needed concerted attention for some time.

As land becomes increasingly contaminated by the latest invasive practices, different forms of remedies need to be considered in order to achieve healthy land that is viable for various forms of agricultural production.

Lastly, what is it that we need to do as individuals? As ones who depend on agricultural production, it is of paramount importance that we recycle waste. If we fail to do so, plastic particles will seep into the soil and pollute it permanently, annulling all aforementioned goodness we may reap from it.

“Honor the Land of Mother-Earth so that she may continue providing us with Life.”


About the author

Emir Šahinović is a Bachelor student at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences – University of Sarajevo. He has a passion for science and agricultural research, having published four papers related to soil pollution and plant physiology. He is also an Ambassador for the NextGen Plant Science Network, a global community of early career professionals and students in plant science, supported by CropLife International.

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