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Pesticides damaging Oz's Great Barrier Reef, says Govt report

August 14, 2011 - London

Agricultural pesticides are causing significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef - a World Heritage-listed natural wonder - according to a new Australian government report on water quality at the site.

The report says some farmers must be more careful with their chemicals.

It found that nearly one-quarter of horticulture producers and 12 percent of pastoral farmers were using practices deemed unacceptable by the industry, reports the BBC.

Pesticides have been found up to 60km (38 miles) inside the reef at toxic concentrations known to harm coral.

The heavy flooding and a cyclone that ripped through northern Queensland earlier in the year are thought to have made things worse, by flushing pollutants out to sea.

The report said many horticulture producers were using practices considered unacceptable, and that the sugar cane industry in the wet tropics of northern Queensland was particularly to blame.

There have been calls from conservationists to limit the use of pesticides and to ban certain weed killers.

But sugar cane producers have argued that there are no alternatives to adequately protect their crops.


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