French lawmakers on Tuesday (6 October) approved a draft bill allowing sugar beet growers to use pesticides that are banned to protect honeybees, a move welcomed by farmers hit by crop disease but condemned by green groups as more backsliding by the government.
To avoid seeing farmers, who experienced an average 15% fall in output [in 2020], turn away from the crop, the government proposed that they would be allowed to use neonicotinoids on sugar beet seeds until July 1, 2023, easing a ban in place since 2018.
“History will remember that, despite scientific evidence and pressure from public opinion, this government continues to encourage the poisoning of soil, animals and our food,” Clement Senechal, campaigner for Greenpeace France, said in a statement.
[Editor’s note: To learn more, read Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’]
In France, the European Union’s top sugar producer …. [a]verage yields are seen down 11%, but growers said they fell 30%-50% in fields hit by jaundice.
The bill goes to the Senate before a second vote in the lower chamber.