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Sustainable Agricultural Activity, Ecosystem Health and Risks to Human Health
Robert Bailey Director, Environmental Research Western Professor (Environmental Science, Biology) The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario Canada N6A 5B7 1-519-661-4022 drbob@uwo.ca
Recently, there have been many improvements in  the assessment of the environmental effects of agricultural activity on aquatic ecosystems, and increased concern about human health risks for people in rural areas using groundwater as their primary drinking water source. Meanwhile, policy and legislation around the safety and security of water in rural and urban areas have evolved rapidly in response to the Walkerton tragedy.

 I propose in this presentation a research program that will integrate previously disparate research paradigms in accurately evaluating the linkages between (i) landscape scale exposure of ecosystems to stressors from agricultural activity (e.g. manure spreading, large-scale livestock production), (ii) effects of such stressors on surface and groundwater quality, including pathogen loads, (iii) effects of changing groundwater and surface water quality on non-human ecosystem health properties such as diversity, stability, and  productivity, (iv) effects of changing ecosystem health on human health risks from surface and ground water, and (v) efficacy of existing and proposed policy and legislation in protecting, rehabilitating, or enhancing ecosystem health and thereby reduce human health risk.

 With this new approach to evaluating the sustainability of agriculture in North America I will address such questions as:
1. When stressors such as manure spreading are quantified at a landscape scale, what measurable effect do they have on surface and groundwater quality?  
2. What measurable effect does changing water quality have on ecosystem properties generally considered measures of ecosystem health such as fish species diversity, composition and abundance?
3. Is there evidence of a causal link relationship between manure spreading, changing water quality, ecosystem health, and measurable effects on drinking water quality such that changes in risks to human health from groundwater consumption are directly or indirectly related to ecosystem health changes?
4. Is there evidence of a causal link between existing or proposed policy and legislation changes with respect to nutrient management and the landscape scale distribution and abundance of stressors from manure spreading? 

 [Presentation]

 

All Submissions
7:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday, 20 October 2005, Oral

The Nova Scotia, Canada 2005 Meeting