Since February 7, sugar beet growers can again use neonicotinoids, these ultratoxic insecticides “bee killers” banned since 2018. The decree re-authorizing, by way of derogation, their use was published on February 6 in Official newspaper.

The text is now targeted by a round of legal proceedings to obtain its annulment in the name of the defense of biodiversity. France Nature Environnement, Générations futures, the National Union of Beekeeping and four other organizations filed, Tuesday February 23, appeals (two on the merits and two others in summary-suspension) before the administrative courts of Lyon and Toulouse, where the French headquarters of Bayer and Syngenta, the companies that own the commercial products derived from these pesticides, are located. And, the same day, the association Agir pour l’Environnement, with the support of the Confédération paysanne, seized the Council of State, also in summary suspension.

“Controlled and limited” use

Agir pour l’environnement is a member of the supervisory board set up by the government to collect the opinions of stakeholders (farmers, associations, technical institutes, etc.) on the conditions for the return of neonicotinoids. Like other NGOs, it denounces a “Forced passage” government and a ” lack of transparency “. And now relies on justice to ” to block ” the return of neonicotinoids.

Read also Temporary reintroduction of neonicotinoids in France definitively authorized

Supposed to stop the fall (estimated at 30% by the trade union) in the sugar beet harvest, attributed to the invasion of an aphid vector of jaundice, a law was passed in October 2020, despite strong opposition, to allow an exemption to the ban on neonicotinoids in the sector until 1er July 2023. The decree published on February 6 specifies its implementation: a marketing authorization is granted for a period of four months (one hundred and twenty days) for sugar beet seeds coated with two neonicotinoids: imidacloprid or thiamethoxam .

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To challenge the decree, the organizations rely in particular on European legislation governing the placing of pesticides on the market. Article 53 of regulation 1107/2009 provides for derogations only in the context of “Controlled and limited”, and if a hazard cannot be controlled by other means “Reasonable”. However, for associations, these two obligations are not met.

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