The noisy autumn of anti-pesticide associations (Pan Europe)

As European Union legislation on plant protection products is being revised, environmental NGOs such as Pesticide Action Network Europe and its partners are stepping up their fight against pesticides.

Since the beginning of the school year in September, the anti-pesticide lobby has increased its actions, both on a French and European scale, targeting the use of pesticides.

The tone was set by the publication of a Générations Futures dossier entitled Water pollution by pesticide metabolites on September 22, the same day that an issue of the magazine “Compliment d’Enquête” dedicated to the subject was published and where to The world a long article signed by Stéphane Foucart. Taking advantage of an anomaly affecting the regulatory limits of certain pesticide metabolites, this coordinated operation suggested that 12 million people would have access to water whose quality limits had been exceeded. A soufflé that will fall quickly, when the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) has finished its calculation of the acceptable threshold for the metabolite of S-metolachlor, a herbicide used specifically in the efficient that culture. With the change from μg/L to 0.9μg/L, 97% of distributed water declared non-compliant became compliant again.

Pan Europe at work

A few days later, on September 27, it was the turn of the Pesticide Action Network Europe (Pan Europe) association – of which the NGO Générations Futures is a member – to publish its report entitled Pesticide Paradise with the underline “ the urgency of freeing ourselves from the chains imposed on us by the chemical industry “. A dossier aimed at denouncing the ” too much control » that the chemical industry will implement European regulations. The well-rehearsed discourse of Pan Europe never varied one iota: European legislation on pesticides will be decided in the office of the bosses of BASF, Bayer and other multinationals.

This publication kicks off the “Rachel Carson Pesticide Action Month” – fifteen European anti-pesticide events spread over a month – a Pan European initiative to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Printemps quietly, true indictment against pesticides.

Little known to the French public, the Pan Europe network nevertheless plays a decisive role in the lobbying carried out by the antipesticide nebula on a European scale. Based in Brussels, and long-time chaired by the darling of the organic lobby, François Veillerette, Pan Europe was founded in 1983 with the aim of influencing European legislation. This network brings together around fifty European environmental associations, including two French ones, Générations Futures and Justice Pesticides.

Little known to the French public, the Pan Europe network nevertheless plays a decisive role in the lobbying carried out by the antipesticide nebula on a European scale.

A few weeks later, on October 18th to be exact, Pan Europe published its Atlas of pesticides, which condensed into sixty pages all the most hackneyed anti-pesticide cliches, including particularly odd figures according to which “ 385 million people, or about half of the world’s farmers and agricultural workers, are poisoned each year “. Document also available on the Générations Futures site… The following day, October 19 – still within Rachel Carson’s month of action against pesticides –, the baton passed into the hands of Good Food Good Farming (GFGF ) for a communication operation. Little known in France, GFGF is a campaign organized by the Agricultural and Rural Convention 2020 (ARC2020), a multi-stakeholder platform created, financed and hosted by the Foundation for the Progress of Man .For the occasion, the GFGF published a report of the analysis of pesticide residues in the hair of 300 people across Europe, entitled Pesticide-CheckUp. Among the 300 people examined were 44 individuals, members of the European Parliament, scientists and journalists, whose analysis was carried out by the Pollinis association, which also specializes in anti-pesticide lobbying.

Pollinis entered the scene

Appropriately, Pollinis organized his own press conference on October 26 in the European Parliament, featuring the main MEPs involved in the fight against pesticides, such as the socialist Éric Andrieu or the ecologist Sarah Wiener. The opportunity to re-distill an anxiety-provoking discourse, by citing ” omnipresence of pesticides “and of” health hazard “, while a quick reading of the document presented indicates that of the 44 hair samples, 19 do not show pesticide residue or below the limit of quantification, and 15 have only one. And when the residuals are quantized, they are infinitesimal. The highest concentration found is about allethrin, with 0.0000018 grams in 1 gram of hair. The Pollinis association itself has to admit, cautiously, that nothing can be deduced from these tests in terms of health risks…

To give more visibility to this joint action, the GFGF also organized a demonstration on October 27 bringing together around a hundred activists in front of the European Parliament on the theme “Detox EU Agriculture! “, which makes for the occasion “the demands of hundreds of EU citizens [leur] sent, accompanied by a lock of hair – the silent testimony of their exposure to pesticides”.

Finally, at the same time, various seminars and conferences were organized. Thus, on September 22, in Italy, in Turin, the “Silent Spring Forum”; on September 25, the webinar “Smoke and mirrors: the public relations tactics of the pesticide industry” organized by Pan UK; on September 28, a “Meeting of mayors of pesticide-free cities in Brussels”; on October 6, a seminar organized by the Corporate Europe Observatory on the theme “Science, lobbies and the environment”, in which the emerging journalist Stéphane Foucart took part; on October 25, an online event titled “Honoring Silent Spring: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for a Pesticide-Free Future,” hosted by Friends of the Earth International.

This overview is incomplete without mentioning the celebration, on October 10, of the validation by the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) of the antipesticide nebula entitled “Save the bees and the farmers! which exceeds the required million signatures to be legally considered by the European Commission, and calls for an 80% reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides in EU agriculture by 2030, and 100% by 2035. For Pan Europe, “ this initiative marked the end of an era when the chemical industry ruled the game. This time, it’s for good! “.

Above all, this unprecedented mobilization aims to influence the ongoing discussions within the EU on the Regulation of SUR (Sustainable Use of Pesticides), a major legislative battle that should be decisive for the near future of the European agriculture.

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