France to Phase Out Glyphosate Over 5 Years

By - October 30, 2018
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The French government under President Macro continues to be committed to banning glyphosate-based weedkillers such as Roundup within the next three years, even though MPs have thrown out various legal moves to enforce it.

The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, has rejected several moves to impose a deadline to remove the controversial chemical from the county, which some experts believe causes cancer after long-term exposure.

This cam after Emmanuel Macron’s promise to ban the controversial weedkiller in the next three years with his government’s large parliamentary majority.

The above actions brought criticism that health concerns had been sacrificed in the interests of strong chemical and farming lobbies. Glyphosate is most well known for being used in the Monsanto product Roundup.

In 2017, the president told the government to outlaw the use of glyphosate as soon as a viable alternative had been found, at the latest inside of three years. Last week, a government spokesman told the media that the commitment of the president is still strong to ban the chemical from use in France.

Macron first made the ban pledge in November of 2017. This was after the EU’s decision to grant another license of five years for the weedkiller.

The environment minister for France, Nicolas Hulot, has proposed several exemptions for farmers who did not want to get rid of the chemical in such a short time.

The legal bill of the government came before parliament and did not impose a legal deadline. Amendments that tried to do so were rejected by MPs from the right and center of the political spectrum. Some argued that they should not antagonize farmers.

Ex-Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon tweeted that health is of little importance when it is faced with strong chemical and agricultural lobbies.

France’s strong farming unions are very much divided on the issue. But the biggest one, FNSEA, has argued strenuously against the ban and last year, farmers blocked the Champs-Elysees in Paris as a protest against Macron’s plans.

According to FNSEA, the farming industry has made a pledge to reduce the use of pesticides. But environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund have made an argument that a future ban is needed to ensure that glyphosate is no longer used. The chemical agency in the EU last year concluded there was a lack of evidence that linked glyphosate to cancer in humans.

The push to ban the chemical in France gathered force this year after a California court found that Monsanto was liable in a roundup cancer lawsuit filed by a worker who said Roundup caused his deadly cancer. The jury found in his favor and awarded him $289 million in damages.

The lawsuit by ex-school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first one to go to trial claiming that glyphosate leads to cancer. Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG, is now facing more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across America.

The jury found that Monsanto had not warned Johnson and many other consumers about the cancer risks of the weed killers. Hulot said after the verdict that nothing will erase the loneliness and pain of these kinds of victims. That is why, Hulot said in a French TV interview, that the recent Monsanto ruling would be the beginning of a war against dangerous pesticides.

Monsanto responded after the verdict that it would appeal. The company stated that the decision did not change the fact that 800 scientific studies and reviews support the fact that glyphosate does not lead to cancer and did not lead to Johnson’s cancer.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced in November he had plans to put a ban on glyphosate in the next three years. This was a unilateral rejection of an EU decision to extend the use of the chemical for another five years after a strong debate about whether Roundup leads to cancer.

The European Commission had proposed an 18-month extension for the glyphosate license at the end of June after a study in March released by the European Chemical Agency claimed that glyphosate should not be classified as a substance that causes cancer. A vote that was expected to renew the chemical’s license for the next decade or ban it completely was expected on October 5 or 6, but this has been postponed for the time being.

Macron noted that some farmers would be exempted from the ban after they made an argument that three years was too soon to find a chemical alternative that was environmentally and economically viable.


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