August 4, 2021

The “pollinator plan” contested by beekeepers and farmers

A “Sword stroke in the water” for beekeeping and farmer organizations, “Additional constraints” for agricultural representatives.

The first version of the “pollinator plan”, presented on Friday 11 June to around a hundred representatives of the various players in the dossier, is still far from gaining support. Some denounce a lack of ambition which will not make it possible to stop the dramatic decline of pollinating insects and call on the State to review its copy, while others are worried about a distortion of competition compared to other European countries.

If the plan presents several axes, it is the “bees decree” which crystallized the tensions. This text, dating from 2003, prohibits the use of insecticides during the flowering period, with the exception of products authorized in a derogatory manner after risk assessment. Considered by all the players to be largely insufficient, its revision is long overdue. The government had unsuccessfully tried to tackle the issue in 2014, before giving up in the face of opposition from farmers.

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In the draft decree that The world was able to consult, two major changes are planned. First, all phytosanitary products are now concerned: in addition to insecticides and acaricides, fungicides (treatments against fungi) and herbicides will also have to be evaluated before they can be used. Then, until now, there were no regulations concerning the hours of spreading of authorized substances: if this decree is adopted, the treatments can no longer be carried out until two hours before sunset and until the end of the day. ‘at three hours later.

“Once again it is agriculture that has won”

The question of these hours, in particular, has been the subject of a real showdown. Beekeepers and environmental NGOs consider it necessary to follow the recommendations formulated by the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES). This recommends that phytopharmaceutical treatments be applied only after sunset, the foraging activity of bees being linked to light. “It is true that banning daytime spreading complicates the work of farmers, but you have to know what you want, and for the harvests they already work at night, believes Henri Clément, secretary general of the National Union of French beekeeping. This text is the result of negotiations between the ministries of environment and agriculture, and once again it is agriculture that has won. “

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