The French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Michel Barnier, has presented Ecophyto 2018, an action plan to reduce pesticide usage in France by 2018, to the country’s council of Ministers. It was expected to have been presented in July. The plan aims to halve pesticide usage by 2018, “if possible”. It also includes the withdrawal from the market of 53 active ingredients of “greatest concern”, including 30 before the end of this year.
The main planks of the plan include: dissemination of good agricultural practices through a network of 3,000 pilot farms; boosting agricultural research and innovation; and providing information to farmers in real time on the presence of crop diseases and pests for better targeted treatments by creating a network of “epidemiosurveillance” accessible to all farmers. The aim is to reduce dependence on pesticides while maintaining a “high level” of agricultural production.
The French agrochemical industry association, the UIPP, has expressed its keenness to participate and contribute to national and regional expert groups. But it has cautioned that the goal of pesticide usage reduction by 50% should be conditional on the development and dissemination of alternative methods. It also suggests that the criteria for the identification of 53 ais of greatest concern must comply strictly with EU regulations, pointing out that this principle has not been applied to seven of 30 substances that have already been the subject of a notice of withdrawal. Failure to do so may result in farmers facing an impasse that results in lower quality crops and yields.
Ecophyto 2018 was developed based on the conclusions of a working group, involving representatives of users, manufacturers, politicians, scientists, NGOs and the government. Details of the plan are available on the website: http://agriculture.gouv.fr/sections/magazine/focus/phyto-2018-plan-pour.