Friday, 21 January, 2022

The government is looking again at the issue of pesticides

After a long controversy over glyphosate, the failure of two successive reduction plans for pesticides and a slow awareness of the agricultural world, the French government is trying for the third time to detoxify agriculture from excess chemicals.

The equation is complex: how to reduce the volume of chemicals, dangerous for groundwater, the environment and health, without torpedoing the sectors of agriculture and food production, flagships already weakened by fierce market competition globalized agriculture.

Since the Grenelle de l’Environnement at the end of 2007, the effects of the two successive plans to reduce synthetic pesticides, called Ecophyto 1 and 2, remain very fragile.

Wednesday April 10, during a meeting of four ministries (Agriculture, environment, health, research) of NGOs and professionals, the Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume recalled that France, the leading European agricultural power with 28.7 million hectares of useful agricultural area (UAA) is the leading user of phytosanitary products in Europe. But “ninth in quantity per hectare”, which shows its commitment to limiting doses.

End of adjustment work

No spectacular measures have been announced. But on the contrary, a fine adjustment work, sector by sector, to disseminate as close as possible to farmers, on farms, good practices to develop agroecology.

Prefect Pierre-Etienne Bisch, who has been interministerial delegate for the glyphosate phase-out and pesticide reduction plan since the end of 2018, will coordinate all the public and private actors involved in the process within a “task force”. For this new plan, Ecophyto 2+, the regional prefects will be mobilized.

Didier Guillaume recalled the goal to be achieved: “To reduce the use of plant protection products by 25% in 2020 and by 50% in 2025, and the phase-out of glyphosate by the end of 2020 for the main uses for which alternatives exist, and by the end of 2022 for all uses “.

The “plant interprofessions”, which bring together producers and processors of cereals, legumes, oilseeds, vines, vegetables and fruits, will meet at the end of April.

The resources allocated to research will be increased, with an allocation of 30 million euros. The researchers will be responsible for identifying “alternative ways” to phytosanitary products by “mobilizing the levers” of “agroecology, biocontrol, genetics and prophylaxis” (medical means against diseases) to allow “cultivation and protect otherwise “, by reducing” as far as possible the use of conventional products “. The call for projects will be launched in June.

Glyphosate “flash” survey

On glyphosate, a “flash” survey will be launched by the summer among farmers to “better understand weeding practices and measure the evolution of practices”. The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) and the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) will conduct a “comparative evaluation of glyphosate-based products”.

In 2018, “14 substances were not renewed at European level” and ANSES will participate, as part of a consortium of four Member States, in the “re-evaluation process of the substance glyphosate, the approval date of which has been set. at the end of 2022 “.

The government also confirms that it is tackling too abundant natural pesticides. A roadmap must be finalized to “develop alternatives to the use of + copper + in viticulture”. Copper is one of the main natural pesticides used in both organic and conventional viticulture to reduce grape rot and attack downy mildew. Its overabundance could endanger groundwater.

A “national strategy” for the deployment of biocontrol must be the subject of a “consultation” by June, that is to say, the encouragement of natural mechanisms to preserve crops from diseases, by resorting to insects. auxiliaries, bacteria or fungi that predate pests. The methods of spreading should be discussed within two working groups by the summer to “protect farmers, residents and pollinators”.

Finally, a database for the purchase and sale of plant protection products should be made public on July 1 at the level of the municipality, guaranteeing the anonymity of buyers.

Mr. Guillaume encouraged everyone’s efforts to continue. On the other hand, he lambasted the public denunciations of glyphosate users who flourish on social networks, in particular the operation “orange fields” launched by an anti-pesticide collective. The Future Generations association deemed the plan “very insufficient” to achieve the stated objective. According to her, the 50% reduction target by 2025 “cannot be achieved if the government does not seriously change gear”

(With AFP)

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