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.
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.