France moves to tackle pesticide risk

France is set to tighten laws on pesticide use after the country’s Senate approved a proposal that would prevent farmers from using spraying practices that pose a health risk to people.

pesticidesThe move comes after 23 children and their teacher were taken ill in the Bordeaux region as a result of vineyard spraying near their school. Similarly in April a winery in the Dordogne was convicted of “gross negligence” when an employee was hospitalised as a result of pesticide poisoning.

The proposed law, which must still be passed by France’s National Assembly this September, would give local councils the power to stop farmers from spraying at certain times of day and make sure that they use specialist equipment when working close to built up areas.

However, the amendment stopped short of enforcing an early plan for 200m radius pesticide-free zones around towns and villages on the grounds that the location of many vineyards and other arable crops would make such a move unworkable.

France currently has one of the highest levels of pesticide use in Europe, although its “EcoPhyto” plan launched in 2008 with the aim of halving this level across all forms of agriculture by 2018.

Vineyards pose a particular health risk, not only because grapes are particularly prone to disease and therefore can require more regular spraying, but also because the vast majority of French vineyards are sprayed with air atomisers, which allow pesticides to drift, rather than the more closely targeted downward boom sprayers used on arable crops.

A recent report in Farmers Weekly highlighted this issue, indicating that French grape growers’ ongoing use of the current machines came down to a combination of habit and the higher cost of more accurate machinery.

However, for the last five years a team of researchers at France’s National Research Institute of Science and Technology of Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA) in Montpellier has been focusing its efforts on methods to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides and improve the efficiency of their application.

Among the techniques being explored are low-drift, air induction spray nozzles. Highlighting the benefit of these, IRSTEA senior researcher Ariane Vallet told the magazine: “We need to promote its use and perhaps we need to find a way of subsidising the uptake of this sort of technology in the vineyards.”

2 Responses to “France moves to tackle pesticide risk”

  1. Surely a moment’s rational reflection would lead us away from questions about how the use of harmful pesticides can be controlled to a realisation that the real question here is “”Why are products that are known to be harmful to humans allowed to be used in the first place, especially on crops that are destined for human consumption?”
    Seen in this light the current debate is pure madness.

  2. Keith says:

    You might as well say everything under the sun in some way can be harmful to humans. Cut the BS and have some commons sense. It is always fine to find ways to produce things in a better way that is more economical and rational. This tendency to go beyond rational thought processes and put absolute safety above everything else ends up in a state of lets not do anything and starve and not have enjoyment of anything either. I absolutely detest natural organic materials as they are persistent and annoy my senses when using and in the end upset the balance of nature in a narrow environment. Things with copper base poison the soils and sulfur is absolutely repugnant to me personally as well as its acidic nature messes up soil balance and burns and is harmful to some of the grapes I produce. the newer products normally being sprayed in conventional vineyards a re much less objectionable to the environment and are much less persistent in the environment in all reality. I spray the commonly used materials within 50 feet of my house and have no issues with it. I quit spraying neonics because my neighbor has bees and he doesn’t have any issues with anything else I spray. People need to educate themselves in reality(maybe some real chemistry and biology) and not listen to all the nonsensical scaremongering. Life span is double what it was a hundred years ago. do people think they expect to live forever and if they do die it is someone else’s fault. The newer products have increased lifespan and ability to feed more people. Proof is in the actually what happens not the scaremongering. Anecdotal thought is worthless regardless of what anyone thinks.

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