The High Environmental Value (HVE) label, which inspires farmers to undertake measures favorable to the setting and biodiversity, competes much more with natural as a result of it’s not as demanding.
An apple with the High Environmental Value (HVE) brand, however handled with varied pesticides… Couldn’t there be an issue? The HVE label has appeared on meals and wine for a number of years. Born from the Grenelle de l’Environnement in 2008 and supported by the Ministries of Agriculture and Ecological Transition, it certifies agricultural practices that respect the setting. Despite this official clean examine, he’s usually currying. Thus, the associations France nature environnement (FNE) and Agir pour l’environnement, the Confédération paysanne and the Union of natural transformers and distributors (Synabio) denounced, final December, a “Illusion of ecological transition”, calling it “Massive greenwashing” and of “Deception” for shoppers.
The Confédération paysanne is standing up towards this label, accusing it of competing with natural and swallowing up assist that might go in direction of extra bold agroecological measures. The 2021 finance regulation, validated in mid-December, confirms these fears: it devotes an general finances of 76 million euros to the HVE within the type of a tax credit score for farms (as much as 2,500 € per yr). In addition, HVE merchandise are half of meals “Durable and / or quality”, in the identical manner as natural, pink labels, PDOs and native merchandise, required as much as 50% in collective catering from 2022 (Equal law).
France nature environnement, one of the creators of the HVE, is extra nuanced, whereas noting “Inconsistencies” problematic. Thus, certification is obtained for the whole farm (place of manufacturing), and never for a product, by accumulating good factors on varied objects. It encourages to scale back artificial fertilizers and pesticides, however doesn’t drive it – it’s due to this fact doable to earn factors elsewhere. Result: a product will be stamped HVE whereas being as chemical as a standard. “At a minimum, the product labeled HVE should come from good practices, claims Arnaud Schwartz, president of FNE. There are holes in the racket, especially on phytosanitary products and animal welfare. We must change the specifications. “
Criticisms that irritate Laurent Brault fairly a bit, liable for the promotion of this label on the National Association for the event and certification of HVE. “If we are interested in pesticides, the promise is assured by organic, while the backbone of HVE is biodiversity”, he argues. On its web site, the affiliation explains that this certification is “A lever to financially enhance the upscaling of French agriculture” confronted with much less demanding imports. It takes farmers who can’t – or are not looking for – to adjust to the natural specs, that are stricter, in direction of productions which are higher valued than the bottom.
However, that is the issue: conceived as a step in direction of natural, it has change into an finish in itself and a business brand – a method of remunerating the efforts made – and a number of other grocery store chains are thinking about it (Intermarché , Leclerc, Grand Frais…).
Pesticides stay approved
Admittedly, the specs, dense, go general in the correct route. But it reveals massive deficiencies. While it encourages a reasoned use of inputs and incorporates measures meant to protect biodiversity (upkeep of hedges, fallow areas, and so forth.) and to avoid wasting water assets, it doesn’t encourage a change in manufacturing mannequin, and above-floor productions (pigs, poultry, greenhouse greens, and so forth.) stay approved. Above all, pesticides, together with probably the most dangerous, usually are not excluded! The wine trade, a big shopper of these molecules, is just not mistaken: with the HVE, it might show a inexperienced brand with out disrupting its practices – even when some winegrowers have modified. As proof, the vine represents 82% of the 8,218 HVE farms! In different phrases, the HVE is “intensive-compatible agriculture”. Moreover, the National Federation of Farmers Unions (FNSEA) actively promotes it.
This success can be cyclical: some see it as a chance to place a lick of inexperienced paint on their practices, at a time when the European Union is proclaiming its agroecological ambitions. The future Common Agricultural Policy, within the course of of being finalized, can be the Trojan horse: half of the envelope of assist to farmers can be meant to finance the agroecological transition – inside the framework of future “eco-schemes” or “eco-programs”. Level 3 of the certification (to which the HVE label is awarded) might be half of the necessities to learn from subsidies underneath these eco-schemes. More problematic, it might even be a query of together with degree 2, but not very demanding (see field). And there, it’s an envelope of 2 billion euros per yr to be distributed …
All the extra purpose to revise the necessities upwards, particularly on pesticides. “As quickly as these inputs are damaging to ecosystems and people, we should cease utilizing them, recollects Arnaud Schwartz, president of FNE. And it’s natural manufacturing that deserves to be supported, greater than all of the others, to fulfill local weather and biodiversity challenges. “
Created in 2011, environmental certification has three ranges. Level 1 solely requires compliance with laws, and degree 2 provides some low-binding necessities in phrases of good agricultural practices. Only the threee degree, which deploys rather more demanding specs, permits us to acquire the HVE label. To qualify, the farmer has the selection between two choices:
- Option A is predicated on 4 indicators: biodiversity, phytosanitary technique, administration of fertilization and irrigation. Each is made up of a sequence of objects, such because the quantity of animal and plant species on the farm, agroecological infrastructures (hedges, ponds, and so forth.), the extent of phytosanitary therapies, and so forth.
- Option B is predicated on two indicators: the share of agroecological or grassland infrastructure, and the load of inputs (water, fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline, veterinary merchandise, meals, and so forth.). This choice, thought-about too permissive by FNE and different NGOs, can be much less used, and its elimination is within the pipeline.