Another one bites the dust! France has decided to set 2022 as a deadline to phase out the use of glyphosate, the controversial active ingredient in one of the world’s most widely used weedkillers, the government said on Monday.
We are happy to report, in case you hadn’t heard, that on Monday the government of France announced they are set to phase out the use of glyphosate by 2022! (As you all know, glyphosate is the main component in Roundup, Monsanto’s number one selling herbicide and all-around environmental killer.)
Although the European Commission wanted to extend the license for the chemical for the next 10 years, France has decided enough is enough.
“‘The prime minister… has decided that this product will be banned in France by the end of the government’s term, as well as others that are similar and which are a public health threat,’ government spokesman Christophe Castaner told RMC radio.
Castaner said the government would set aside 5.0 billion euros ($6.0 billion) over President Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term to support the development of an alternative to glyphosate.”1
France’s minister of ecology, Nicolas Hulot, gave an interview about the dangerous chemical and the government’s decision to Ouest-France, thanks to GM Watch you can read it below: 2
Proponents of glyphosate defend its ecological benefits. Do you agree?
Farmers, like ministers, are under fire from contradictory elements. Glyphosate, like everything related to health and the environment, affects human life, that of consumers and that of farmers. Faced with these serious issues, we must get out of the trap of dogmatic confrontation – hence my meeting with farmers on the Champs-Élysées – and move from emotion to reason. In other times, I have heard the same controversies, for example on asbestos. And we have seen tragedies, as spectators. Depending on our decisions, justice and history will catch up with us.
You are confident that this herbicide is dangerous?
Every day, science discovers bioaccumulation phenomena and cocktail effects. Against glyphosate and its role as an endocrine disruptor, and possibly a powerful antibiotic, there is a bundle of presumptions that justify applying the precautionary principle.
But a brutal ban would pose an unsolvable problem for many farmers…
I understand that perfectly. And I am on their side, including regarding their health. But on the pretext that it is complicated, should we continue to push the topic under the table?
Will France therefore oppose renewal at European level?
The answer is yes, because we have to make the fastest possible exit out of the most dangerous products. Without constraint, there will be no creativity to find alternatives.
If a [glyphosate] renewal is adopted in Brussels, will the government impose a ban on French soil?
On glyphosate and on all endocrine disruptors. I have learned from the government that France is expanding its research capacity. This seems necessary when you see that a document produced by a European agency was copy-pasted from a manufacturer of glyphosate! France will be able to shoulder its responsibilities unilaterally. But we will not take any brutal action against farmers.
It seems that there is no alternative to glyphosate, if not a new herbicide developed by Monsanto …
On the molecular level, there is nothing to guarantee that [any new herbicide] will be less dangerous than glyphosate. On the other hand, in terms of cultivation practices, many farmers are weeding without glyphosate while also refraining from ploughing – a practice that is beneficial for soils. These practices are already used in France, even if they require more work. In the field of insect control, there are very good solutions without insecticides, thanks to biocontrol (use of natural mechanisms – Ed.). It is therefore necessary to discuss the objectives and means, particularly within the General Conference on Food [les États généraux de l’alimentation], which is taking place at the moment.
At the conclusion of the Conference, will the government finance an agriculture that no longer uses controversial products?
The Conference must be a moment of collective intelligence, where nobody stigmatizes anyone. I am not the enemy of conventional farmers. But everyone has to step into a process of progress. Value-sharing – where the big winners of the agricultural sector are still the manufacturers of plant protection products – must be re-examined and trust between consumers and farmers must be restored. We must create an agriculture that is intensive in employment rather than in fertilizers and plant protection products. Yes, this means paying farmers for their work in favour of biodiversity and of the climate and energy transition.
But funds are lacking. The Minister of Agriculture has just announced the cessation of some aid to organic agriculture …
It was necessary to arbitrate, in particular in favour of medium-altitude agriculture. In fact, what is important is the next move, that is to say the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). If the Conference allows for a shared French vision, it will contribute to the construction of a new CAP, the first European expenditure item.