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France: Reducing chemical pesticide use and developing biological controlqrcode

Sep. 10, 2020

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Sep. 10, 2020

France: Reducing chemical pesticide use and developing biological control

The development of the sector was placed at the top of the French political agenda at the sixth annual biocontrol meetings, which took place on 21 January in Paris. That day, Agriculture Minister, Didier Guillaume, promised a roadmap to boost the sector, which will include support measures for the industry for the next five years.

According to the France Report of EURACTIV (EU’s official media), in the last few years France has endeavored to reduce the use of chemical pesticides while making effort to on development of biopesticides. Meanwhile, France has been trying to promote enacting of more favorable laws and regulations in support of biopesticide development in EU.

Key events in chemical pesticide prohibition and restriction in France in last three years

January 2020: The neonicotinoid insecticides flupyradifurone and sulfoxaflor banned in France.

December 2019: ANSES announced the removal of 36 herbicides containing glyphosate , which accounted for 3/4 of the glyphosate used in 2018.

June 2019: ANSES announced prohibition of the sale of epoxiconazole, which is said to contain carcinogenic substances while being also harmful to human reproductive health, with a “worrisome danger”. 

November 2018: the French government publicly discussed the Ecophyto II + plan, targeting at reduction of the use of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2025. 

In September 2018, France banned the sale and use of five new neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, thiacloprid, and acetamiprid), being the first EU country to prohibit neonicotinoid insecticides so as to protect the honeybee population. 

Rapid biopesticide development in France, fully supported by government

According to the census of French IBMA, the French biopesticide market accounted for 8% of the total pesticide market in 2018, having reached EUR170 million. Denis Longevial le, the secretary-general of the institution, said the proportion of biopesticide is expected to reach 10% by 2020, with the final goal of 30% by 2030. 

As a whole, compared with other European countries, the biopesticide industry in France is relatively developing faster, but this rapid development is not accidental.

Elisabeth Borne, the French ecology and sustainable development minister, said that the sales of chemical pesticides in France increased sharply in 2018, which appeared to be contradictive to the government’s goal of halving the use of chemical pesticides by 2025. This situation, in fact, also revealed that the agricultural model based on the use of chemical pesticides seems to come to its end of life, whilst biological pesticides are embracing the best opportunity of development. 

A better regulatory framework in favor of biopesticide development has promoted the rapid development of biopesticides in France. Denis Longevial le said that France had focused on researches of biological control for the last decade. In 2014, France formulated a strategy which is being planned for implementation. The main contents of the strategy are currently under review, to be properly implemented in the next 10 years.

There is another advantage, being that the biological control products are benefiting from the accelerated process of approval of registration and marketing. The review by ANSES of chemical pesticide products takes generally 12 months while for biological control products it takes only 6 months. However, this is not the case generally in Europe, where there is neither a standard definition yet of the biological control nor a favored approval process for registration and marketing of biopesticides.

Table 1: French L.253-5 and L.253-7 

Biological Control Product List (microbiological products only)


European market growing stably while registration regulation still remain as main obstacle

Europe is the second largest biopesticide market in the world. Biopesticides in Europe have development rapidly in the last few years. Unfortunately, the development of biopesticides is facing some obstacles due to the complicated regulatory procedures in the EU. It is understood that the 1107/2009 Regulation is presently still in place in EU, under which, the biopesticides based on microorganism, biochemistry and chemical pheromones are subject to the same regulatory framework as chemical pesticides, and the requirements for registration of biological control products are the same as for chemical pesticides. This has led to a significant increase in the time and cost of registration of biopesticides, which discourages the enthusiasm to file for this kind of registration and investment in Europe.

At present, the United States is a global leader in the research and development, registration and application of biopesticides. EPA, the US pesticide registration and evaluation agency, has become the world leader in biopesticide regulation and supervision. The United States has made great improvement to the testing methods of biopesticides, having lowered data requirement and reduced the time and cost e involved in registration of biopesticides. This has set a global precedent for simplification of biopesticide registration, which, as a result, has enabled farmers in the United States to use the large number of cost-effective biopesticides instead of chemical pesticides, making the United States a world leader in the use of biopesticides. 

To be frank, as aforesaid, the EU's regulatory process is still complicated. Although some special provisions are made, the idea to put biopesticides, which are based on microorganism, biochemistry and chemical pheromones, under same registration process as chemical pesticides is apparently unreasonable. Knowing that the measures provided by legislation are intended to support the registration of "low-risk" products, but this does not serve the purpose in reality. In addition, there are obvious inconsistencies between the rules for products for use in organic farming and traditional agricultural production. 

To this end, it is predicted that in the future the EU will need to revise the EU 1107/2009 Regulation to simplify the registration process of biopesticides, especially product based on the natural substances, as well as to simplify the mutual recognition process among EU Member States.

This article was originally published in AgroPages' 2020 Biologicals Special

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