Pesticides: a threat to public health?

02-12-2019    19:57   |    Euronews

FRANCE - In Rennes, the capital of Brittany in France, an unusual crowd is gathered in front of the region's administrative court. They have come to support Daniel Cueff, mayor of the village of Langouët, summoned for having banned the spraying of pesticides on crops within 150 metres of residential housing. A measure the State says does not fall under his authority.

But he is unrepentant and believes the Republic must act to protect residents from synthetic pesticides.



"I wanted to demonstrate that there is imminent danger when pesticides are used," he explains. "And since the state is failing to do anything, we must implement ourselves the precaution principle that is in our Constitution. The way people are being poisoned is extremely serious!"

And it appears more and more french citizens agree with him, claiming these pesticides are a danger to their health. A widespread feeling in Europe.

Following Daniel Cueff's example, several French mayors have taken similar measures. Some of them had come to support him that morning, not yet aware judges would cancel his ban on pesticides a few days later. did the farmers who had gathered that same morning in the small village of Langouet.

Tensions run high between residents worried about their health, and farmers concerned about their economic survival.To comply with a European directive, the French State has plans to introduce a minimal buffer zone between crops and residential homes. But farmers say this could kill French agriculture, and pave the way for imports."In many parts of France, there was a time where people were allowed to build houses everywhere," says Cedric Henry, President of the FDSEA Ille-et-Vilaine, the district branch of the country's main farming union."If buffer zones are imposed, it means that all the farms in all the municipalities will be affected. And if these areas are no longer productive, how do we make them profitable?"This argument doesn’t go down well with many of the village’s 600 inhabitants.Erwan Bourdon is a beekeeper in Langouet. In recent years, like many of his colleagues, he has lost many of his bee colonies - more than 60 percent last year.He blames the loss on pesticides which he says are a time bomb.


"We know that these products are volatile and we need to understand that when they are sprayed, only between 2% and 20% of the product will be absorbed by the plant," he says. "Everything else is going to be directed into the air or into the groundwater. It will seep into the ground and it will enter the water table. So the impact can be much larger than a few metres around the field."

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