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
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Geological Research Institution (DGGRI) in an as yet unpublished
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