Banned pesticides get stay of execution in France

The French Parliament has pushed back a ban on production of certain pesticides for 3 years – despite these toxic products already being banned in the EU.

On Friday 15 March, as young people from all over the world raised their voices to demand more political action to fight climate change, the French Parliament voted for a 3-year reprieve on banning pesticide production.

The European Union regulates the use of pesticides and chemicals used on crops to protect the health of citizens, farmers and the environment.

While the use of certain pesticides is prohibited, their production is not. France produces some of these ‘banned pesticides’ and sells them to countries outside of the European Union.

In order to align with environmental goals, in November 2018 the French Parliament voted through a law planning the end of this production for 2022.

Five months later, the Parliament went back on its decision and granted a delay in the pesticide production ban. The vote, which took place late at night, was criticised as only 37 deputies were present for the vote: 27 supported the change, 3 opposed it and 7 abstained – French parliament is composed of 577 deputies in total.

This turnaround will push back the ban to 2025, but moreover, the amendment provides the possibility for companies to get exemptions if they agree to sign a transition convention – a contract defining some alternatives to put in place.

Pesticides and chemical fertilisers are dangerous for biodiversity and nature. They kill life in the soil and make plants dependent on them, meaning farmers are forced to buy ever more expensive chemicals to keep up with production rates, all the while ruining their most precious natural resource.

Elise Vitali, Policy Officer for chemicals at the European Environmental Bureau, says:

While citizens are in the streets to demand more environmental action, some deputies persist in surfing on the wave of unethical and hazardous initiatives, legal gaps and the “business as usual” model. The proposal permits agreements to continue producing those pesticides prohibited at EU level, without a deadline, and export them to other countries. As a French citizen, I am proud to see that France can be very progressive on the regulation of chemicals at the EU level, but it is a shame that such amendments can be adopted in 2019.

Happening now: Pesticide Action Week is taking place at the moment! From the 20 to 30 March, this thematic week aims to show alternatives to pesticides.