Alternative pesticides also pose risk to the Great Barrier Reef

Photo credit: Paul Toogood Photo credit: Paul Toogood

The coral that makes up the Great Barrier Reef has been on the decline for decades due to a number of causes including sediment, fertilizer, and pesticide runoff. Commonly used herbicides, known as PSII herbicides, have been identified as particularly harmful to the reef. As a result, their use has been regulated in Australia and new chemical alternatives are being developed. A risk assessment recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that new alternative herbicides are often as environmentally risky or even riskier than the PSII herbicides they are replacing. In order to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the authors advocate for improved farm management practices as opposed to simply replacing herbicides known to be environmentally harmful with less regulated ‘alternatives’that may prove to be just as bad.