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why France didn’t vote to ban it

France, which carries weight within European institutions, abstained in the vote on the authorization of glyphosate until 2033, deemed “probable carcinogenic” by the WHO. Instead of a ban, Paris is calling for “more strictly regulating the uses” of this herbicide.

An unsurprising position but very far from Emmanuel Macron’s commitments in 2017. France abstained this Thursday on the vote on authorizing the marketing of glyphosate, a very controversial herbicide within the European Union. A posture heavy with symbols within the EU while France is the leading agricultural power.

“The French position is clear: France is not against the principle of renewing the molecule, but wants to quickly reduce its use and regulate its use,” assumed Marc Fesneau, the Minister of Agriculture, in a statement. Press release.

Glyphosate down 30% in France

In the absence of an agreement, it was the European Commission which took control and authorized the use of this product for the next ten years. On October 13, during a previous vote, Paris had already abstained.

“We are the only country in the world to have reduced the use of glyphosate by 30%,” Marc Fesneau explained on France Info before adding “that no European country does without glyphosate,” due to a lack of alternatives.

In 2020, the French health agency Anses had announced progressive restrictions for its use in agriculture. Its use for individuals has already been prohibited since 2019.

This close friend of François Bayrou, however, clarified after the vote this Thursday “to want to quickly reduce its use and regulate the use of the molecule, to limit its impacts”.

A substance classified as “probable carcinogen”

The government is clearly careful to display a certain balance on the issue of glyphosate. And for good reason: the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO) had classified glyphosate as “probable carcinogen” in 2015.

This active substance present in several herbicide products, including Monsanto Roundupis used throughout the world for the treatment of weeds, particularly in arboriculture, viticulture, but also in the maintenance of green and industrial spaces.

The voice of Paris and its abstention count all the more strongly because, for deliberations at European level, demography has a strong influence. 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.

Regulate “more strictly the uses” of glyphosate

Suffice to say that the abstention of France with its 68 million inhabitants in the balance, just like that of Germany, on the same line, which alone represent 20% of the European population, had every chance of block a possible vote.

Other countries abstained, like Italy. 17 voted for it, including all Eastern European countries, and three opposed it, including Luxembourg. The French government, however, indicated that it had asked the European Commission to regulate the uses of this herbicide “more strictly.”

Emmanuel Macron had however promised upon 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 admitted “not having succeeded” on glyphosate, admitting to having made the “error” at the start of the five-year term of having believed France capable of getting away from this weedkiller alone without the others European countries.

“A high long-term risk to mammals”

“The assessment of the impact of glyphosate on human health, animal health and the environment has not identified any areas of critical concern,” the European Food Safety Authority said in its conclusions. in July 2023.

The institution, however, recognized “a high long-term risk in mammals” for half of the proposed uses of glyphosate, while recognizing that the lack of data prevented any definitive analysis.

Several countries have banned glyphosate in recent years, including Luxembourg in 2018, which was finally forced by court decision to reauthorize it. Mexico committed in 2021 to a progressive ban on glyphosate until a total ban from March 31, 2024.

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