Danish towns agree pesticide phase-out

Local authorities support government plan to end herbicide, insecticide use by 2003

Danish local authorities yesterday pledged to stop using pesticides by 2003, during a meeting with national environment minister Svend Auken. The initiative is based on a government plan drawn up last year to phase out pesticide use in the public sector (ENDS Daily 3 December 1997). The public sector is responsible for about 2% of pesticide use in Denmark. The voluntary agreement covers herbicides and insecticides, but does not include pesticides used for rodent control. A local authority official told ENDS Daily that the municipalities, who are responsible for drinking water supply, were increasingly concerned about the prospect of pesticide contamination of groundwater, the main drinking water source in Denmark, due to agricultural pesticide use. "It is important that we minimise our pesticide use to convince farmers [to do the same]," he said. Regional authorities will also meet with the minister soon in order to formalise their support for the phase-out plan. Speaking at the opening of the new parliamentary session on Tuesday, the Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said the government was also working on a law to ban pesticide use in domestic gardens. Commentators say the law, which should be drafted by next spring, may bring Denmark into conflict with the EU if it is seen as breaching the Union's single market.

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