A new report from the national environmental agency MiljÃ¸styrelsen disputes claims from the nationÂ’s farmers that their increasing use of pesticides is not harming the environment.
The report shows that farmers have increased their use of pesticides 11 percent over the past three years. Damage to the environment caused by pesticides, however, has increased by 30 percent. The study calculates for the first time the degree of toxicity of the pesticides being applied to the fields.
Farmers have been claiming that their increased use of pesticides has had a minimal effect because they are using milder and less harmful products. The report shows that farmers are actually opting for the most powerful agents allowed under the law.
The environment minister, Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti), is now calling for a tax on pesticide use.
“Agricultural pesticides have been far more damaging than many have believed,Â” Auken told Politiken newspaper. Â“A pesticide tax will reduce consumption and encourage farmers to choose less harmful methods.Â”
Researchers compiling the report developed a method for measuring the impact of pesticides, which will be the basis for the pesticide tax. Auken says the tax on the most harmful pesticides will be higher.
“Voluntary agreements have not worked, so now we must get tougher.”
ParliamentÂ’s 2004 Pesticide Plan encouraged a voluntary reduction of 20 percent in the frequency use of pesticides on agricultural land. The report shows that rather than dropping, the amount of use increased by almost 30 percent.
The increased use of pesticides by farmers offset a decline in the use of chemicals by the public sector and municipalities resulting in a zero net reduction overall.