According to the government, which provided these “provisional data”, this drop is the effect of measures taken since 2018 to reduce the use of plant protection products.
Pesticide sales fell in France by 44% in volume in 2019, after the surge in sales in 2018 (+ 18%), the government announced on Tuesday. The quantities sold of glyphosate, a controversial weedkiller, “decreased by 35% (-3,358 tonnes) between 2018 and 2019 after increasing by 11% (+999 tonnes) between 2017 and 2018”, specified the departments of Ecological Transition and Agriculture in a joint press release. The French government had promised in late 2017 that this molecule would be banned “in its main uses” within three years, without waiting for the five years decided at European level.
Biocontrol on the rise
According to these “provisional data”, the total quantities of active substances sold for agricultural uses, excluding biocontrol products, decreased by 44% between 2018 and 2019 (-28,078 tonnes), after having increased by 18% between 2017 and 2018 (+ 11,870 tonnes), said the government, which considers that these results “allow us to note the first effects of the measures taken (…) since 2018 to reduce the use of plant protection products”. Concerning the quantities of products sold considered as “the most worrying”, known as CMR (carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxic), they decreased “by more than 50% in 2019 compared to 2018”, the government said. Conversely, the relative share of biocontrol products, alternatives to chemical pesticides, “continues to increase, which illustrates a gradual and continuous substitution of the most dangerous substances by these products,” said the authorities.
The Court of Auditors had pinpointed last February 4 the policy of reduction of agricultural pesticides led by the State, which had hitherto produced results “far below the objectives” in 2018, despite a considerable budget, of some 400 million ‘euros (including 71 million levied on the fee for diffuse pollution). Since the Grenelle of the environment at the end of 2007, which had set a target of reducing the use of synthetic pesticides by 50% in 10 years, the two successive plans implemented, Ecophyto 1 and 2, have resulted in failure . In April, the government therefore tried for the third time to detoxify agriculture from the excesses of chemistry by launching an Ecophyto 2+ plan.