Danish pesticides reduction plan launched

Government calls for cut in agricultural use, no-spray zones, tripling of organic farming

Agricultural use of pesticides in Denmark should be reduced by more than one-fifth by 2002 under a draft action plan released by the Danish environment ministry on Wednesday. The three-pronged strategy aims to cut spraying frequency, triple the area of land farmed organically and create no-spray zones around all significant water courses. The government plans to finalise the exact measures to be undertaken in February after public consultation and a parliamentary debate.

Danish policy on pesticides is among the toughest in Europe, with a substantial political lobby in favour of a complete shift to organic farming. The government's new proposals are based on recommendations made earlier this year by an expert committee, which concluded that phase-out was not practically feasible but that pesticide use could be cut significantly (ENDS Daily 23 March).

The draft strategy's first target is to reduce the "treatment index," or average number of times per year that farmland is sprayed with any kind of pesticide, from 2.45 now to 2 by the end of 2002. At the end of the period there will be an evaluation "with new targets," an official in Denmark's environment protection agency (EPA) told ENDS Daily.

The second prong of the strategy is to create ten metre wide no-spray zones around almost all rivers and streams in Denmark, including any pond or lake larger than 100 square metres. This would make it illegal to apply pesticides on around 26,000 hectares out of the approximately 2.6m hectares of farmed land in Denmark, the EPA estimates.

Finally, the government is proposing a target to nearly triple the area organic farmland by adding 170,000 hectares by the end of 2002 to the 60,000 hectares already managed in this way. The increase would reduce by 7% the area of land being farmed with pesticides, according to the EPA, and would take the overall share of organic agriculture in Denmark to 10%.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00. References: Danish EPA press release, (in Danish).

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