It is a practice called“odious” by the United Nations, but which France and European countries are having a hard time stopping: the export of pesticides whose use is prohibited in the European Union (EU) because of their danger to health or the environment .
A pioneer, France became, on the 1is January 2022, the first country to ban this controversial trade from its territory. However, nearly a year after the entry into force of the law, it continues to massively export banned pesticides. Between January and September, more than 7,400 tonnes of ultratoxic substances were sent mainly to Brazil but also to Ukraine, Russia, Mexico, India and Algeria.
Fungicides, herbicides, insecticides: in total, 155 authorization requests corresponding to around fifteen banned molecules have been approved by the French authorities, according to data compiled by the Swiss association Public Eye and Unearthed, the investigation unit of the British branch of Greenpeace.
The report, published on Wednesday 30 November and to which The world had access, highlights the flaws in the legislation. The main one lies in the law itself. The ban, provided for in the food law enacted in 2018, applies to plant protection products “container” substances not authorized in Europe, but not to the active substances themselves. Also, manufacturers can legally continue to export prohibited products in pure form. And they don’t hesitate.
Thus, the American firm Corteva was authorized to export nearly 3,000 tonnes of picoxystrobin, a fungicide banned in Europe since 2017 due in particular to its genotoxic potential. First destination, Brazil and its soybean crops where French exports represent around 85% of the volume of picoxystrobin used each year. A lucrative business since, according to estimates by financial analyst S&P Global, sales of the fungicide bring in 260 million euros to Corteva each year.
Another loophole appears in a decree implementing the law. Published on March 23, 2022, it introduces a derogation: pesticides whose authorization has expired without having been the subject of a formal ban at European level or whose manufacturers have not submitted renewal applications can continue to be exported. The text provides for “grace periods”. These must be set by joint order of the ministries responsible for agriculture and the environment, “based on an assessment of the impact of the prohibition measure”, specifies the decree. Eight months later, the decree has still not been published. He will be ” shortly “we are assured at the Ministry of Ecological Transition.
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