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Researchers uncover pesticide footprints and environmental-health risks of global soybean trade

In a study published in Cell Reports Sustainability, researchers quantify the pesticide footprints and environmental-health risks of global soybean trade, highlighting the importance of agricultural trade in global pesticide management.

The widespread use of pesticides in food production systems impacts human, animal, and ecosystem health. The globalization of the food trade is masking such impacts by separating production from consumption, yet its effects on pesticide use and their related risks remain unclear, posing challenges for the global management of pesticide-related risks.

In response, the researchers developed an integrated framework for mapping nation-specific environmental and health burdens linked to pesticide use along the global soybean trade across 197 countries.

Their findings reveal that trade concentrates environmental-health risks related to soybean pesticide use into few hotspot countries, notably the USA, Brazil, and Argentina. Approximately 64% of soybeans were traded globally, embodying ~55% of environmental-health risks linked to ~108 kt of pesticide use, suggesting trade is potentially benefiting global soybean pesticide risk control. Furthermore, their research indicates that about 30 kt of future increase in soybean pesticide use and ~6% of their related risks can be offset up to 2050 by reducing 80% of soybeans traded from high-pesticide-use-intensity nations to lower ones. This demonstrates the great potential of trade measures in mitigating environmental and health risks associated with soybean pesticides in the long-term future. The results of their study highlight the necessity of reconsidering the role of agricultural trade and promoting global collaborations on pesticide risk management.

Their findings offer insights into the implication of trade for the sustainable management of soybean pesticides and their associated risks, thus helping cope with the “soybean-pesticide-trade” nexus challenges and safeguard food security.

This work is led by Prof Chen Wei-Qiang and Prof. Zhu Yong-Guan research groups from the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IUE, CAS) and contributed by experts from institutions including the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Chongqing University, etc. This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Contacts:CHEN Weiqiang


Cell Reports Sustainability



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