05 March 1999
Water firms fear pollution due to GM crops

WATER companies are demanding a halt to the commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, amid fears that the agrochemicals used on them may pollute rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

The water industry is worried that herbicide-resistant crops could lead to problems meeting strict limits on individual weed and pest-killing chemicals in drinking water.

The companies also fear they may face multi-million-pound bills to put in herbicide removal technologies at water treatment works.

An industry team of environmental and scientific experts will meet for the first time this month, to investigate the possible effect on drinking water.

GM crops work in conjunction with just two of the 70 pesticides used in British agriculture: glysophate, marketed by Monsanto; and glufosinate, marketed by AgrEvo.

The range of herbicide available has helped to keep individual chemicals within the European limits.

But the reliance on just two weedkillers could lead to an increase in breaches.