Danish government unrelenting on pesticides

Opposition party proposals rejected in favour of five-year pesticide phase-out plan

The Danish government today flatly rejected opposition party proposals to impose new limits on the use of pesticides on non-arable lands and shorten the evaluation period for new pesticides before they are put on the market. The move reflects determination by the governing coalition to maintain its policy of eventually phasing out pesticide use, against the wishes of right-wing opposition parties.

One proposal made by opposition parties was to reduce the time limit allocated for examining new pesticides before they receive marketing approval. In Denmark, as in Italy and Austria, new pesticides take three to four to reach the market, whereas in France and Germany, the process takes less than two years. The Danish government opposes speeding up the process. "It would the wrong thing to do," a Danish official told ENDS Daily.

Another proposal was to impose new limits on the use of pesticides on non-arable land. However, the government made clear that it would continue to promote its policy of phasing out completely the use of pesticides within five years rather than accept continued use under tighter controls.

The phase-out plans were announced last December when the government secured the support of a left-wing opposition party, the Socialist People's Party. The government is also working on a draft proposal to considerably increase pesticides taxes. It has until 1 February to table the proposal, which has drawn strong criticism from the right-wing opposition parties in the parliament.

Today, the government also rejected a third proposal put forward by the opposition, which sought to introduce an environmental risk index for various pesticides. The government once again maintained that its own plans of phasing out pesticides all together was a far better option.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the government and opposition parties are continuing on introducing a tax on the use of fertilisers (ENDS Daily 3 December 1997). The agreement, which must be reached at the latest on 1 February, aims to cut nitrogen losses by 100,000 tonnes compared with 1987 levels.

According to a conservative officials participating in the negotiations, talks so far have centred on technical aspects and there have been no major disagreements. Neither he nor a spokesperson for the environment ministry wanted to speculate on the final outcome only two weeks before the deadline for conclusion of the talks.

Follow Up:
Danish parliament, tel: +45 33 37 55 00; Danish environment ministry, tel: +45 33 92 76 00.

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