July 15, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- , Politiken, 05/10/03: 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in an as yet unpublished article.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
It is the Environment Ministry that has given permission
to use glyphosate - based on the producers [Monsanto's]
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
"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