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France moves toward all-out ban on neonics

Paris | Reuters — French lawmakers approved plans for a total ban on some widely used pesticides blamed for harming bees, going beyond European Union restrictions in a fierce debate that has pitched farmers and chemical firms against beekeepers and green groups.

The EU limited the use of neonicotinoid chemicals, produced by companies including Bayer CropScience and Syngenta , two years ago after research pointed to risks for bees, which play a crucial role pollinating crops.

Crop chemical makers say the research blaming neonicotinoid pesticides is not backed up by field evidence and a global plunge in bee numbers in recent years is a complex phenomenon due to multiple factors.

Farmer groups, meanwhile, say no viable alternatives exist and a full ban would put France at a disadvantage to other crop-producing countries in the EU.

The outright ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was adopted by a narrow majority late on Thursday by France’s National Assembly, as part of a draft bill on biodiversity that also contains an additional tax on palm oil.

The measure, however, would not come into effect until Sept. 1, 2018, later than the January 2017 deadline previously proposed by some lawmakers.

The proposed neonicotinoid ban still needs to be pass before the French Senate, which rejected it in a previous reading, before a final vote in the National Assembly expected in the middle of the year.

The full ban was backed by France’s environment minister, who is also in favour of phasing out glyphosate herbicide in an EU review that has split member countries.

“This decision will prepare us for the future and protect bees and the role they play,” Segolene Royal said in a statement Friday. “Research and development of substitute products has to accelerate.”

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, who had warned a unilateral French move on neonicotinoids could hurt farmers in the EU’s biggest crop producing country, said he welcomed the deferred 2018 deadline.

Le Foll has been piloting a wider French plan to halve pesticide use. But he put back by seven years the initial target for reaching that goal in the face of rising farm chemical use, partly due to weather patterns such as a wet summer two years ago that increased crop disease.

Bayer said the parliamentary vote was a setback for farmers.

“Some farmers are going to find themselves in a dead end regarding crop protection… and could see their harvests fall by 15 to 40 per cent depending on the crop,” it said in a statement.

Reporting for Reuters by Emile Picy and Gus Trompiz.


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  • RobertWager

    It will be very interesting to see what alternatives are used. I wonder what the impact on bees will be. Hopefully the media will cover this.

    • Warren Lauzon

      I don’t there really are any alternatives.

  • Warren Lauzon

    What are they going to do if it does not help the bees? Admit they were wrong? Not likely.

    • headjones

      Let the science happen…

  • J. Randall Stewart

    Good news. More export sales for me.

    • sir_ken_g

      Your toxic GMOs will not be welcome there.

  • sir_ken_g

    Wow first three comments by 3 $tooges.
    And upvoted by a sock puppet.

  • SageThinker

    Several comments here are by well-known industry-aligned “trolls” — i wish there were a better word but these are people who comment non-stop in complete alignment with the agrochemical industry, so what is one to think? I comment a lot, but it’s because i care about people and the planet. Easier to explain my motivations. Anyway, i don’t trust the industry “science” as far as i can throw it. It is clearly non-science nonsense intended to create a smokescreen for plausible deniability of harm, and to enable continuation of sales as long as possible until the proof is really solid about causation of harm by any particular chemical — sort of like small versions of climate change denialism that the fossil fuels industry engaged in to delay acceptance that global warming is real and a serious threat. We need to open up the industry files on these chemicals for the public good. We need to see what they knew and when. The track record is far too dangerous to ignore, with PFOA and PCBs dangers being hidden for decades until we finally got proof that DuPont and Monsanto, respectively, knew they were selling poisons and dumping them illegally and not informing their customers of the full dangers. These are crimes against humanity and we need to stand up to them, for the good of our planet and all people. PCBs cover the whole globe now. Even polar bears suffer developmental issues as a result of exposure. Chemicals of this sort are so dangerous — they are genies that cannot be put back into the bottles. We need to stop the lying purveyors of these chemicals in their tracks and open them up to see what is going on now.

    • sir_ken_g

      Folks like that can end up in prison

      • SageThinker

        Many more should than have ever been prosecuted. Generally they are as slippery as the PCBs and PFOA they have sold while hiding the dangers. They’re not afraid to divert 1% of their profits to hire an army of lawyers and “public perception managers”…. i.e. propagandists and lobbyists.

        • sir_ken_g

          And lowlife $hills like we see here.