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Béchu describes its reauthorization in the EU as “crazy” and defends France’s abstention

Christophe Béchu justifies the position of Paris which abstained this Thursday on the ban for the next ten years of this very controversial herbicide. Emmanuel Macron assured in 2022 that he had made a “mistake” in thinking that France was capable of getting out of the use of this weedkiller without other European countries.

The government is trying to justify itself. France abstained this Thursday on the vote around marketing authorization for glyphosate, a very controversial herbicide within the European Union. A posture heavy with symbols within the EU while France is the leading agricultural power.

“I would have preferred that our position took the form of a vote against rather than an abstention. The position of authorizing all uses for 10 years is crazy,” said Christophe Béchu, the minister in charge of the Ecological Transition this Friday on France inter.

France “failed to find enough allies”

This close friend of Édouard Philippe claims to have “personally brought together a certain number of countries which had not supported the position of the European Commission to reauthorize glyphosate” and to have “not managed to find enough allies”.

Member countries of the European Union met at the end of the week to decide on the future of this herbicide, widely used throughout the world. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO) had it classified as “probable carcinogen” in 2015.

A first vote in October failed to reach a common position among EU states on the ban or renewal of the authorization of glyphosate for the next ten years, at the initiative of the European Commission.

“An abstention is worth a vote against”

A second vote was therefore organized on Thursday. To validate or reject a Commission proposal, the required majority is qualified. It requires the votes of at least 15 member states representing 65% of the EU population, or 447 million inhabitants.

Neither the votes against nor the votes for reached a qualified majority. Such a situation then allows the European Commission to regain control. It therefore decided to extend the authorization of glyphosate until 2033. France and Germany, which have among the largest populations in France, abstained.

“An abstention is worth a vote against,” assures Christophe Béchu, the minister in charge of the Ecological Transition this Friday on France inter.

“Christophe Béchu is right from an accounting point of view. An abstention is more or less equivalent to a vote against but he is wrong politically,” deciphers a former advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, contacted by BFMTV.com.

An abstention which involves other countries

“Paris voting against the ban on glyphosate would have seriously embarrassed the Commission, which should probably have imposed at least restrictions on the use of glyphosate by individuals,” analyzes this good expert on the matter.

The abstention of France and Germany – two particularly powerful countries on the European scene – brought in their wake Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Malta, and the Netherlands which adopted the same position, according to diplomatic sources.

Obviously keen to reduce the pressure on this vote which is annoying in France, particularly in the environmentalist ranks, Christophe Béchu promised that he would have no influence on France.

“This vote will not change anything for us. France will continue to ban the use of glyphosate and restrict its use,” assured the Minister of Ecological Transition.

“Macron did not want to penalize French farmers”

To have. Emmanuel Macron had promised on his arrival at the Élysée to ban glyphosate “within three years” and had repeatedly explained that he wanted to bring this subject to the European level.

In January 2022, the head of state recognized “not having succeeded” on glyphosate. He mentioned having made the “mistake” at the start of the five-year term of having believed France capable of getting out of this weedkiller without the other European countries.

“Macron did not want to penalize French farmers. Either we all get out of glyphosate in the EU, we restrict its use, or no one gets out and we make small restrictions in certain countries. A vote against would have had symbolic significance powerful”, further specifies a former advisor to the Minister of Agriculture.

Béchu discusses the “consequences on biodiversity” of glyphosate

In 2020, the national agency for food, environmental and occupational health safety (ANSES) had announced progressive restrictions for its use in agriculture. Its use for individuals has already been prohibited in France since 2019.

Christophe Béchu assured that he was looking for “credible” alternatives to this herbicide whose “consequences on biodiversity and aquatic environments are certain and documented”.

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