Ecological reserves are dedicated to scientific study of the functioning of ecological systems: they are established in all the biomes and ecological zones of the Union to preserve "standards of nature" for each type. These reserves are to allow the measurement of the effect of human activity on the environment, and provide "pools" of genetic material to effect the survival of species. The hundreds of
ecological reserves are administered by numerous Union and republican ministries.3
Even agriculture, in a modern, highly populated society, is liable to degrade the environment by displacing animal life, reclaiming swamps or forests, and disseminating chemical fertilizers and killers of weeds and pests.4 Soviet law sets out to determine what utilization of the land is ecologically safe. There is a State Commission for Chemical Means of Struggle against Pests, Plant Diseases, and Weeds, which tests chemicals before use and assesses their impact on the ecology.
Industry, of course, presents even more severe problems. As little as 1 to 1-1/2 percent of raw material may appear in the finished product, the remainder being waste that requires disposition. Perhaps five billion tons of waste accumulate every year in the Soviet Union.5 Wastes may be burned, neutralized, or buried; burial requires safeguarding of population centers, recreational areas, and surface or subterranean waters. Dangerous wastes are, buried in pits with walls of either c