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UPDATE 1-French PM overrules farm minister on pesticide ban
June 26, 2017 / 11:50 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-French PM overrules farm minister on pesticide ban

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, June 26 (Reuters) - France’s prime minister said on Monday a ban on bee-harming pesticides would go into force as planned in 2018 following a public disagreement between his farm and environment ministers.

At issue is a law banning widely used neonicotinoids after research pointed to risks that they could harm bees, which play a crucial role pollinating crops.

The full ban goes beyond EU restrictions that only apply to a few neonicotinoid chemicals, produced by companies including Bayer CropScience and Syngenta.

“The government has decided not to reverse the provisions of the 2016 law,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement, adding that the question had been discussed but the ban was reconfirmed on June 21.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert had earlier told RMC radio and BFM TV that he was in favour of softening the ban.

“I want to address ... the possibility of a number of exemptions until we find substitution products,” Travert said.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot replied on Twitter and in comments to journalists, saying there was no question of going back on the ban.

“Whenever health is at stake, I will not make any concession,” he told reporters.

Crop chemical makers say the research blaming neonicotinoid pesticides is not backed up by field evidence and a global plunge in bee numbers in recent years is a complex phenomenon due to multiple factors.

Farmers’ groups, meanwhile, say they need the pesticides to grow their crops, that no viable alternatives exist and that a full ban would put France at a disadvantage to other crop producers in the EU.

The French law does envisage certain exemptions before the ban becomes a blanket prohibition from 2020. (Reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide; Editing by Brian Love and David Evans)

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