THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
16 September 2003
Dear Friends and colleagues,
RE: DANISH WATER CONTAMINATED BY ROUNDUP, BAN IMPOSED
Denmark has imposed a ban on the spraying of glyphosates as of 15 September 2003 following the release of data which found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (RR) has been contaminating the drinking water resources of the country.
The chemical has, against all expectations sieving down through the soil and polluting the ground water at a rate of five times more than the allowed level for drinking water, according to tests done by the Denmark and Greenland Geological Research Institution (DGGRI) as reported below.
“When we spray glyphosate on the fields by the rules it has been shown that it is washed down into the upper ground water with a concentration of 0.54 micrograms per litre. This is very surprising, because we had previously believed that bacteria in the soil broke down the glyphosate before it reached the ground water,” says DGGRI.
We hope you will find the information provided useful.
With best wishes,
Lim Li Lin and Chee Yoke Heong
Third World Network
121-S Jalan Utama
Danish glyphosate restrictions draw protests
Environment Daily no. 1457, Jun 5, 2003
Danish environment minister Hans Christian Schmidt has announced unprecedented restrictions on glyphosate, the country’s and Europe’s most widely used herbicide. The action follows publication of data showing the chemical’s presence in groundwater, from which Denmark obtains most of its drinking water. Although concentrations in drinking water did not exceed permissible limits, it was “worrying” that unacceptable quantities of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA might build up via drainage in the uppermost levels of groundwater, Mr Schmidt said. “Danes should be able to put the coffee on in the morning without worrying about pesticides”, he added. From 15 September, autumn spraying of glyphosates will be banned on sites “where leaching is extensive because of heavy rain”. There are a number of exceptions to the new restrictions, which are subject to revision after an interim consultation period. In a joint response, Cheminova, Syngenta and Monsanto, which manufacture or sell glyphosate in Denmark, condemned the government’s move as “unacceptable” for the producers or Danish farmers. Glyphosate could only be identified as a threat by ignoring “scientific findings and knowledge”, they said. According to the firms, the restrictions appeared to be based on finding of glyphosate at one metre’s depth in the soil. This “can hardly - and only with the most narrow political intentions - be regarded as groundwater, and certainly not as drinking water”, they complained.
The Danish row will reignite a gathering EU debate on the sustainable
pesticides use being coordinated by the European Commission, which is due
to issue firm proposals for a strategy next year
(ED 04/07/02 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=12501)
European NGOs and some MEPs are campaigning for a halving in pesticideusage over ten years
(ED 28/03/03 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=14151)
http://www.mst.dk/, tel: +45 32 66 01 00, and press release
Cheminova, Syngenta and Monsanto statement http://www.environmentdaily.com/docs/30605a.doc
Poisonous Spray on a Course Towards Drinking Water
May 10, 2003
Politken, Denmark, by Anders Legarth Schmidt
Denmark’s most popular herbicide Roundup is polluting the underground water far more than previously thought. Agriculture uses yearly 800 tons of active glyphosate in herbicide. The Environment Minister is looking at taking steps to address this.
The Danish drinking water resources are under attack from an unexpected quarter. The chemical glyphosate that is in the popular herbicides Roundup and Touchdown is against all expectations sieving down through the soil and polluting the ground water at a rate of five times more than the allowed level for drinking water.
This has been shown from tests done by the Denmark and Greenland Geological Research Institution (DGGRI) in an as yet unpublished article.
Believed Bacteria broke down glyphosate
“When we spray glyphosate on the fields by the rules it has been shown that it is washed down into the upper ground water with a concentration of 0.54 micrograms per litre. This is very surprising, because we had previously believed that bacteria in the soil broke down the glyphosate before it reached the ground water.”
It is the Environment Ministry that has given permission to use glyphosate - based on the producers [Monsanto’s] own research.
Used against Twitch and Thistles
Farmers spray glyphosate on their fields after the harvest to keep the soil free of twitch and thistles. It had been earlier found in wells in Roskilde and Storstroms regions as well as the Copenhagen district council area. Critics say glyphosate causes cancer, while its defenders call it a wonder herbicide.
Professor Mogens Henze the head of the Institute for Environment and Resources at Denmark’s Technical University, says that the consequence of the new knowledge is that water works in five to ten years will need to clean the water before Danes can drink it.
“The results show that glyphosate is polluting our drinking water. And unfortunately we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, because glyphosate and many other spray chemicals are on their way through the soil at this point in time. Politicians need to look at agriculture in relation to clean drinking water and decide what it is they are going to do.” says Mogens Henze, who isn’t blaming the farmers who use something that the authorities have allowed.
Statistics from the Environment Ministry show that the use of glyphosate has doubled in the last five years. In 2001 800 tons was used and that made up a quarter of farmers total use of pesticides. This shows that glyphosate is the most used herbicide by farmers.
As a result of the new research from DGGRI the Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt is currently thinking about doing something about the use of glyphosate on Danish fields.
“It is simply not acceptable that this stuff is turning up in our groundwater in such a concentration so high over the acceptable level. If this is the case then we must react quickly” says the Environment Minister, who is awaiting a report from the Environment Ministry.