Sunday, December 5

France threatened with legal action over pesticide use | The Biodiversity


The French government is being threatened with legal action by two NGOs accusing it of failing to fulfill its obligations to protect nature.

Notre Affaire à Tous and Pollinis have issued an ultimatum to the French state for failing to address the biodiversity crisis by implementing adequate laws and regulations. The announcement was made at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in the French port of Marseille and will be followed by a demonstration of civil disobedience.

They argue that the state has allowed the widespread use and marketing of pesticides that harm wildlife. They are focusing on the use of neonicotinoids, banned in the EU but authorized under specific conditions in France, and glyphosate, which when used in herbicides has been linked to the death of insects and cancer in humans.

By allowing the systematic use of these chemicals, the French state failed to fulfill its duty to care for the country’s wildlife, the two NGOs argue. The state should adopt a rigorous and efficient pesticide registration process, and also reexamine marketing rules in the next two months, activists say.

Julie Pecheur de Pollinis said: “There is now a scientific consensus on the role that conventional agriculture and the use of pesticides play in the erosion of biodiversity.

“Civil society has been trying for decades to transmit this experience to the authorities and offer solutions, to no avail. The law must intervene now. The 19th century saw the birth of human rights; the 20th century saw the birth of social rights; the 21st century must be the century of the rights of nature ”.

Cécilia Rinaudo, executive director of Notre Affaire à Tous, said: “It is time for the French government to account for the collapse of the living world and honor its commitments.”

Like many countries, France has signed international treaties stating its ambition to address the catastrophic loss of wildlife. The French Ministry of Ecology has said that it is necessary “to make the protection of biodiversity one of the priorities of major public policies.”

However, argue the NGOs, the actions of the State have been inadequate.

Nicolas Laarman, Managing Director of Pollinis, said: “Despite all the talk and despite national, European and international laws and conventions, the French government has failed to establish a pesticide approval system that truly protects pollinators and wildlife in general.

“The figures for the current collapse are shocking. This generalized decrease in biodiversity will have dramatic consequences on the balance of life and threatens the future of the next generations ”.

Scientists have repeatedly shown a link between the widespread use of pesticides on farmland and the loss of pollinators, which are essential to many food chains. This is believed to be one of the leading causes of insect loss worldwide, along with the destruction of wilderness areas. Last year, a global study showed that the number of insects had dropped by almost 25% in the last 30 years.

EU members banned neonicotinoids from crops in 2018 due to the harm they cause to bees, but some countries have subsequently allowed their use in specific situations.

During the IUCN opening ceremony on Friday, Macron said he would use the French EU presidency in 2022 to push for a continent-wide change on pesticide use. He acknowledged that a total ban would be complicated, but said he was working with farmers to bring about reform.

Find more coverage on the era of extinction here and follow the biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for the latest news and features




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