After having buried the promises to ban glyphosate by 2021, after having authorized the spreading of pesticides at the level of homes, the Government is now backing down under the pressure of the lobby of intensive agriculture and industry sugar plant, by re-authorizing neonicotinoids – a particularly dangerous class of pesticides – for beet cultivation.
- Dangerous pesticides, banned for two years: neonicotinoids are insecticides that have the particularity of spreading throughout the plant and in the pollen collected by bees and other pollinating insects, resulting in their death by deterioration of the nervous system . But while only a fraction of these molecules are taken up by the plant, over 80% ends up in the environment. As these molecules degrade very little, they persist long after treatment and contaminate subsequent crops for years, soil micro-fauna as well as the waterways and groundwater that supply our drinking water reserves. Because of the dangers associated with their use, these pesticides were therefore banned in France since 2018 (1).
- A re-authorization potentially applicable to all crops: while other agricultural sectors are committed to the development of alternatives, the beet sector is stubborn in its intensive and polluting practices, and has just obtained from the Government the re-authorization – authorization of these pesticides for at least three years, on the pretext that beet cultivation could no longer do without them. This particularly irresponsible decision, which concerns no less than 200,000 hectares, endangers the principle of a general ban on neonicotinoids voted by Parliament in 2016, and paves the way for the same relaxation for many other crops. The corn industry has indeed just claimed the same preferential treatment. The bill confirms this risk since the planned procedure, far from being limited to beet, explicitly applies to all crops.
- Contempt for civil society: the bill will simply be presented to the National Council for Ecological Transition (CNTE) where civil society is represented, rather than being the subject of a genuine debate. This method is at odds with the demands of a modern democracy. This is a farce, the Minister of Agriculture having already presented in early August the re-authorization of neonicotinoids for the beet industry as a final decision. While the mission of the CNTE is precisely to help the public authorities to define the strategy and the modalities of environmental transition, the Government has deliberately chosen not to consult it and to stick to simple information on the content of the draft law already finalized. This process thus signals a worrying drift by the government, which day after day reduces the possibilities for civil society and NGOs, such as the UFC-Que Choisir, to make their voices heard, as a counterweight to the various industrial lobbies.
UFC-Que Choisir does not intend to endorse this state of affairs by its presence. The association will therefore boycott Tuesday's CNTE meeting. In view of the serious environmental and health risks posed by this re-authorization, the association:
– urges the Government to maintain the ban on neonicotinoids for all crops by withdrawing this bill,
– calls on parliamentarians now to reject it if it is maintained.
(1) Article 125 of the law of August 8, 2016, known as the “law for the recovery of biodiversity”, prohibits the use of plant protection products containing one or more active substances from the neonicotinoid family and seeds treated with these products (…) from September 1, 2018
– to www.agglotv.com