Switzerland’s Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) plans to look at the regulations on 15 pesticides containing the chemical chlorothalonil, an ingredient used since the 70s to protect fruit and cereal crops from disease.
Environmental groups will be given a chance to comment on the review, said FOAG.
Tests in parts of Switzerland have revealed high levels of chlorothalonil in ground water. Earlier this year, the drinking water in Belmont-Broye, a commune in the canton of Fribourg, was found to have excessive levels of the substance, according to the newspaper La Gruyere.
Chlorothalonil is toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates and can cause kidney and stomach damage in humans and renal tumors in rodents and dogs, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In vitro tests done in the 90s show the substance has the potential to damage DNA. In addition, the use of the chemical may also be linked to declining bee populations.
From 2020, chlorothalonil use will be banned across the EU, following a health risk warning by the European Food Safety Authority. The ban is likely to reduce crop yields and the cost of producing wheat could rise between 8% and 12%, according to NFU.
One can only wonder how many more agrochemicals considered safe now will banned in the future.