New map shows pesticide black spots in France

An organisation aiming to raise awareness of the health problems caused by the use of pesticides in France has released a map showing exactly where the black spots are.

New map shows pesticide black spots in France
French people protest against pesticides. Photo: AFP

The map released by Générations Futures was published on Thursday and is based on where the victims of pesticides are in France.

The aim was to make sure “everyone understands the gravity of the situation” in France.

Numerous studies have linked pesticides to various health problems ranging from cancers to birth defects and hormonal imbalances.

The issue is regularly in the news in France, Europe's top user of pesticides with 80,000 tonnes being sprayed on crops each year.

The map below shows the areas where people have been affected. It was based on the testimonies of hundreds of people who say they have been adversely impacted by pesticides being used near their homes.

The anonymous testimonies included accounts of headaches, fatigue, and coughs, all ailments attributed to the use of pesticides nearby.

The organisation claims scores more are lining up to alert them so there may be many more points to add to the map.

It reveals that much of France is affected by the phenomenon, perhaps hardly surprising given how much of the countryside is dedicated to farming.

CLICK HERE for a more interactive version

Swathes of the centre of France, where agriculture is less important and the populations are lower, appear to have been largely spared. 

The map suggests those living near cereal farms and the country's wine growing areas were at greatest risk, given the reliance on pesticides. 

Victims talked of how farmers in the fields would wear protective masks when spraying their crops with pesticides while on their other side of the fence children would play in their gardens with no protection whatsoever.

“We remained locked in our homes during the spraying hours,” said one woman from southwestern France.

Others spoke of how farmers and local authorities refused to listen to their concerns.

“The aim is to show the reality of the impact on professionals and local populations so the government takes the matter seriously,” said spokeswoman for Générations Futures François Veillerette.

She stressed that exposure to pesticides is particularly dangerous for young women and children.

A study earlier this year by the same organisation revealed how up to 30 different pesticides were found in homes near farms that grew vineyards, orchards or cereals.

Another previous study found similar traces of pesticides in the hair of school children in agricultural areas.

“Everything must be done so that they are not exposed to these products. [Pregnant women and children] are the people that must be protected as a priority, it is a public health issue.”

The organisation claims that the health costs of pesticides around Europe represent around €120 billion.

France's efforts to cut pesticide use have hardly been laudable. Last year the government delayed a plan to lave the use of pesticides by seven years, basically because it wasn't working.

“France had set a voluntary target of halving pesticide use in the decade to 2018 but it has in fact risen,” Reuters reported at the time.

The government planned to introduce binding targets to oblige farms to reduce pesticide use, but farmers objected saying their crops would be exposed to disease and insects.


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French hunter kills bear that bit him

A 70-year-old hunter killed a bear in southwest France Saturday after it attacked and seriously wounded him, local officials said.

A brown bear is pictured in the semi-wildlife animal park of Les Angles, southwestern France.
Brown bears had nearly disappeared in France until the country began a reintroduction programme, importing them from Slovenia. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG

The female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, bit him as he was hunting in the Seix region of Ariege, a source close to the case said.

Rescued by the local gendarmerie, he was transported to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Toulouse with a wound to his leg at the level of his femoral artery, officials at the prefecture in Ariege said.

One source close to the case said he was in a serious condition.

The hunter told local officials he had been out with a group of other hunters on the trail of a boar, when the female bear, who was travelling with her cubs, attacked him.

After being wounded, the hunter shot the bear twice, killing it.

The local gendarme unit was called out to rescue him at around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT). They discovered the body of the bear a few metres from where they had found the hunter.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, the prefecture in Ariege said.

One local official told AFP on Saturday: “This is really what we feared.”

“Today, you can really see that cohabitation is complicated,” said Christine Tequi, president of the Ariege department council.

The brown bear had nearly disappeared in this part of the world when France began a programme of reintroducing them, importing them from Slovenia.

Today, there are around sixty of them in the Pyrenees range, leading to increasing tensions with local farmers, because of the threat they pose to their livestock.

In 2020, three bears were illegally killed in the Pyrenees: two of them in Spain and one in France. The French government has committed to replacing any bear killed by a man.

READ ALSO: The decades-old battle between French farmers and conservationists over bears
READ ALSO: What are the most dangerous animals in France?