Already banned for individuals and communities, the use of glyphosate will also be banned or, at the very least, restricted for some of its agricultural and forestry uses.
This is the consequence of the results of a study published Friday, October 9 by ANSES, the health security agency, which for two years to seek to evaluate non-chemical alternatives to this herbicide, the most used in the world but also the most controversial.
Four agricultural areas concerned
To do this, the agency reviewed each use of the product in four fields of application – viticulture, fruit trees, field crops and forestry -, relying in particular on work already carried out by the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE).
Result: according to ANSES, “Alternatives to the use of this herbicide are already commonly used without presenting any major practical or economic disadvantage”, mainly the use of manual or mechanical means to weed.
This finding led the agency to ban the use of glyphosate in four cases: in viticulture, between rows of vines; in arboriculture, between rows of fruit trees; in field crops, when the plot has been plowed; in the forest, for root canal devitalization.
Exceptions for “technical dead ends”
On the other hand, exceptions are foreseen in the event of“Technical dead ends”, when mechanical weed control is not possible. This is the case with steeply sloping vines, terraces or on stony soils; strips for harvesting fruit on the ground or bushy crops; in field crops, situations where the control of weeds (“weeds”) is regulated and compulsory; in the forest, for the maintenance of stand plots and forest nurseries.
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In these cases, the use of glyphosate remains authorized. However, ANSES sharply reduced, each time, the maximum dose authorized so far, from 80% for uses in viticulture to 60% for fruit orchards or field crops.
So-called soil conservation agriculture (ACS) receives special treatment. This practice, which does away with deep plowing to better preserve the soil, is still very dependent on glyphosate. And will remain so, since it continues to be authorized in this case.
Likewise, ANSES is giving up banning the use of glyphosate in non-agricultural areas – for weeding railways, highways or airport runways, for example – because this could have “Significant consequences for the safety of operators and users”.
It now remains to make these prohibitions and restrictions effective. The agency has given itself six months to update its marketing authorization or renewal policy. “This limitation of conditions of use and doses per hectare will help reduce the quantities of glyphosate used in France from 2021”, she assures.
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The promise leaves environmental activists skeptical. “The results of this study are very disappointing. The progress proposed in trompe l’oeil, denounces Générations Futures. “This report freezes a significant number of uses of glyphosate for a very long time. Sign of a renunciation of a real exit from glyphosate despite the promises ”.
In November 2017, President Macron set the objective of eliminating most of the uses of glyphosate in 2021, for a total ban in 2023. To date, this herbicide remains the second most used phytosanitary in France with 9,700 tonnes of active substance sold in 2018, compared to 8,800 the previous year.
Its impact on human health remains controversial. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, classified it as “Probable carcinogen”. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and several other regulatory agencies have, on the contrary, concluded that glyphosate does not present a risk under the conditions of authorized use.
ANSES was to finance a large study to reassess the toxicity of this product before the re-examination of its authorization at European level, scheduled for 2022. But a gloomy case of conflict of interest has stopped this work.