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Kayakers paddle down the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand, April 19, 2017 (AP photo by Mark Baker).

Agriculture Has Polluted New Zealand’s Water, Under the Government’s Watch

Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018

The majority of New Zealand’s once pristine rivers and streams have been rendered unswimmable—and some of its water supplies undrinkable—by contamination from the country’s intensive agro-food industry. Although environmental issues, including agricultural policy, were debated ahead of New Zealand’s general election in September, little has been done since a new coalition government took power. In an email interview, Mike Joy, a senior lecturer in ecology at Massey University in New Zealand, discusses the dangers of intensified farming and successive governments’ failure to find solutions.

WPR: How have changes in New Zealand’s agro-food industry over the past decade led to a substantial increase in pollution and water contamination? ...

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