More control, stiffer fines and greater self-regulation. That’s what renegade farmers are set to harvest if they continue using banned products.
There has been a fierce political reaction in the wake of revelations that criminal importers are supplying Danish farmers with illegal pesticides and fertiliser that harm the environment and ground water.
The environment minister, Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti) said that she finds it completely unreasonable that some farmers are partaking in activity that compromises the environment, ecosystem and the public’s health.
“The problem is that some farmers and importers don’t feel pressured enough by the authorities,” Auken told Politiken newspaper. “At the moment, we are working on a new pesticide strategy. We’re looking at raising the fines because the financial incitement is apparently great enough to do these things.”
At the heart of the illegal pesticide trade is a business connection in the Djursland region of Jutland. Through the connection in Djursland, over 13,900 tonnes of fertiliser and 45 tonnes of pesticides were imported into Denmark between the years of 2006 and 2009, including the banned herbicides Isoproturon and Butisan Top.
Among the buyers are some of the nation's largest farming operations, including a royal hunting grounds master, several estate owners and a board member of Landbrug & Fødevarer (Danish Agriculture and Food Council).
Per Clausen, the environmental spokesman for Enhedslisten (EL), was also furious that the illegal importation was sabotaging the government's plans to reduce the pollution of Danish waterways.
“This is completely unacceptable and is a clear example of the poor morality in the agriculture sector as well as a failure of the authorities,” Clausen told Politiken. “It seems like the illegal activities have been allowed to fester, much to the harm of the environment.”
Auken will meet with leaders within the agriculture sector and discuss how the farming industry can clean up its act. They will also examine the possibility of increasing control and regulation as well as look at cracking down on the importers and sellers of the illegal products.
The local agriculture community in Kolding has already reacted to the scandal by excluding Bent Hjort Knudsen, a farmer and importer who was revealed to be selling illegal pesticides, from the local agricultural association.