Neonicotinoids are now banned in French agriculture

Bees on honeyframes in Ploerdut, West France, June 19, 2018 / AFP

Bees on honeyframes in Ploerdut, West France, June 19, 2018 / AFP

The proponents of the bees became impatient, farmers did not laugh: the use of neonicotinoids to free plants from insect pests is now forbidden.

By excluding five substances (clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid, thiacloprid and acetamiprid), which are accused of contributing to the massive reduction of pollinating colonies, of all plant health use, France goes beyond the EU, which is the first three by 19 December at the latest. but only for field crops.

"This ban puts our country first in the protection of pollinators, the environment and health," Agnès Buzyn said on Saturday via Twitter.

These molecules, which appeared in the nineties and are used the most in the world, attack the nervous system of insects and thus pollinators. Even at low doses, bees and drones are disoriented, they can not find their beehive, men's sperm has changed …

In France, the "neonics" are mainly used preventatively, by coating the seeds before they spread to the whole plant, including pollen.

In spite of the criticism of the agricultural world, the government states that there are alternatives for most applications. He pleaded for a fight where he gave priority to non-chemical methods and promised farmers to support this transition & # 39 ;.

But they complain of a "dead-end road", describing alternatives that require more work and manpower, which would reduce their competitiveness vis-à-vis imported products.

Neonicotinoids, insects, insects / AFP

Neonicotinoids, insecticides "bite-killers" / AFP

"We want exceptions for two crops that are unresolved, corn, attacked by the gray fly and beets," insisted the president of the FNSEA, Christiane Lambert, referring to a possible legal action of these two sectors.

– Saved bees? –

Beet growers who have been able to beat the green aphid thanks to the coated seeds are afraid that this ban will "endanger" the sugar industry.

Without an effective solution to this jaundice, the loss of yield "at national level, over several years on average at least 12%" and up to 50% on a plot, according to the technical institute of the beets.

"Some dead ends have been identified by ANSES on rare crops that have no substitutes," said Foreign Minister for the ecological transition Brown Poirson in a statement to AFP. "They are counted on the fingers of one hand and will be the subject of a thorough study by our ministries, as well as a limited and controlled use."

"We are together with farmers," she said on BFM TV.

However, the ban is pretty good news for bees and their supporters, although beekeepers and non-governmental organizations are concerned until 1 July 2020 about the possibility of derogations from the 2016 biodiversity law, on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition only acetamiprid should be involved, and for small volumes. But with the resignation of Nicolas Hulot, & # 39; only ally & # 39; from the bees to the government, who will defend the principle of a powerful ban on neonicotinoids? & # 39 ;, asks the National Union of French beekeeping (UNAF).

The beekeepers, who denounce an "ecocide", also hope that the final version of the Food Law will endorse the principle of the ban on substances with the same operating mode as "neonics", such as sulfoxaflor. This measure has just been reported to the EU, so the government wanted to reassure Friday.

"We no longer have to replace toxic molecules with others: we have to implement an ambitious policy of transition to agroecology," says Nicolas Laarman, deputy general of the NGO Pollinis.

Do not think that because of the ban on neonicotinoids "we will save all bees", says Axel Decourtye, scientific director of the Institute for Bees.

"There are other battles to keep the head above water," he says, referring to diseases, Asian hornets and all the other pesticides that NGOs want to see disappearing to protect bees, as well as people.


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