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FARMING

French government declares war on pesticides (but backtrack on weedkiller ban)

UPDATED: France is planning to cut back on use of all pesticides, the government said Monday, though it rowed back on an announcement of an outright ban on controversial chemical glyphosate.

French government declares war on pesticides (but backtrack on weedkiller ban)
Photo: AFP

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner had said earlier Monday that France — Europe's biggest food producer — intended to phase out glyphosate completely by 2022 over fears that it may cause cancer.

But he later reversed his comments, saying that by the end of President Emmanuel Macron's five-year term “the government is committed to seeing significant progress on all pesticides”.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in one of the world's most widely used weedkillers, Roundup, produced by the US agro-chemicals giant Monsanto.

The European Commission has proposed extending the licence for the use of the chemical for 10 years, which France has said it will vote against and try to block.

France's biggest farming union, the FNSEA, said Monday that it was “out of the question” for the country to go it alone, worrying that a French ban could put them at a disadvantage against European competitors.

“A sudden ban, no — a path for reducing it and finding solutions, if the solutions are good economically and technically, we can see it happening,” said FNSEA chief Christiane Lambert.

On Friday 250 French farmers blocked the Champs-Elysées avenue to protest against the French government's threatened ban on glyphosate.

They accused president Emmanuel Macron of killing French farming.

IN PICTURES: Champs-Elysées hit by hay fever as French farmers protest

“Mr Macron wants to be the the world's Mr Clean but he is the gravedigger of agriculture,” said Frédéric Arnoult, president of Young Farmers union.

“How can we want to sell the dream to the French of a healthy diet, while they take away our means of production?”, he asked.

Europe limited use of glyphosate last year pending further research.

The EU's chemical agency said glyphosate should be not be classified as cancer-causing.

But this is challenged by scientists and environmentalists who point to a finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”.

Some 1.3 million people have signed an online petition calling for a ban on the chemical.

 

FARMING

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?

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