Initiative for clean drinking water
Drinking water is the best monitored food in Switzerland. However, this is endangered by intensive agriculture. More and more regions in our Switzerland no longer meet the requirements for using groundwater for drinking water, as increased concentrations of harmful substances such as pesticides and nitrates have been found. This results in complex and costly water treatment. The initiative for clean drinking water advocates food production free of synthetically produced pesticides and an animal population that can be fed with local feed and the use of prophylactic antibiotics is not allowed.
The initiative triggers heated discussions in society and shows that it is a highly discussed topic. The arguments even diverge within the interest groups, but the discussion shows that something has to change.
Bio Suisse: Biobauern streiten sich über Trinkwasserinitiative (nzz.ch)
NZZ am Sonntag - E-Paper
- Use subsidies to promote sustainability
- Antibiotic resistances are developed and are life-threatening
- Pesticides in drinking water are a health hazard
- Excess manure causes carcinogenic nitrates in drinking water
- Production costs for farmers and prices for consumers rise
- The self-sufficiency with Swiss vegetables is reduced
- There will be more food waste because the risk of breakdowns increases and more has to be produced as a result
- Without pesticides, there are more imports
How much pesticide is used in Switzerland?
✪ According to the Federal Office for Agriculture, 1950 tons of pesticides were sold in Switzerland in 2019. Basically, sales of pesticides are decreasing, but sales of agents that can be used in organic agriculture, such as sulfur and paraffin oil, are increasing rapidly. This is due to the increase in biologically cultivated agricultural land. 16.5% of the usable area is already cultivated according to biological guidelines, and the trend is rising. However, this also means that the pesticide concentration hardly changes, since it is now applied to a smaller area.
Where do pesticides in groundwater come from?
According to the Water Protection Ordinance (GSchV), the water quality in surface and groundwater should "... contain no long-lasting artificial substances ...". Pesticides are detected in over 50% of all groundwater measuring points. If we concentrate on intensively built-up areas, this is also over 90% of the measuring points.
What are the most common pesticides in drinking water?
According to sales statistics for pesticides, the most commonly used pesticides are glyphosate, bentazone, metolachlor, atrazine, chloridazone (beet herbicide) and chlorothalonil.
Glyphosate is sold under the brand name Roundup © and is the best-known and most widely sold pesticide. It was originally developed by Swiss chemist Henri Martin in 1950, but it was not until the early 1970s that Monsanto discovered its effectiveness as an herbicide. The annual production in 2012 was around 720,000 tons, 15% of which in around the USA.6 In Switzerland, consumption is falling, but over 125 tons are still used every year.7
Where do nitrites and nitrates come from?
Nitrates mainly come from two sources in our soil and in drinking water. On the one hand, this is nitrogenous fertilizer, on the other hand, it is mainly animal excretions which are applied to the meadows and fields as liquid manure.
An increased nitrate concentration represents a health risk, especially for small children and infants, as it partially converts the nitrate into nitrite, which is carcinogenic.
How can you check your drinking water?
Our professional water analyzes examine your drinking water for a wide variety of pesticides, glyphosate as well as nitrate and nitrite concentrations and other harmful, toxic heavy metals