Pages tagged "Pesticide Ban"
The Macron Government of France is offering its farmers a way out of glyphosate dependency within the next 3 years
The Macron Government of France is offering its farmers a way out of glyphosate dependency within the next 3 years.
Millions have been following European discussions on the possible ban (or a new licensing period) for glyphosate-based herbicides; discussions which stemmed from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declaring glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in March, 2015.
Glyphosate application to pear trees (Credit: Chris Hardy)
European countries finally voted, in November, 2017 to allow glyphosate to be used another 5 years on farms. Although not the time period desired by many, this was less than the time wanted by industry, some countries, and some European agencies.
Germany, after initially abstaining, in a surprise, politically-motivated, change-of-heart, voted to back the European Commission’s proposal to extend the use of the weed-killer for 5 years. The surprise came when then Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt took it upon himself to cast Germany’s deciding yes vote supporting 5 more years of glyphosate. Neither Chancellor Merkel nor Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks had been notified of his intent. After the vote, French President Macron said he would take all necessary measures to ban the product, as soon as an alternative was available, and at the latest within three years.
The French solution to glyphosate
In November, 2018, the French government presented possible mechanisms for achieving such a ban. Here is my best understanding on how the French government sees a transition away from glyphosate use while protecting farmers financially.
Overall, the plan emphasizes good farming practices and encourages dialogue among farmers. The government has also declared that no one will be left without a solution if they abandon glyphosate.
The plan also involves:
1. An online platform where farmers can publically declare they are glyphosate free, or are in the process of committing to a glyphosate phase-out. The government anticipates that 25,000 organic farmers will sign up on the online platform since none use glyphosate.
2. A glyphosate phase-out support component where farmers can share experiences online with other farmers (both organic and conventional) who are involved in the phase-out process.
3. A “technical resource bank”–not fully described–but it appears experts will interact with farmers who have questions on how to phase out glyphosate use.
4. A tax for those farmers using glyphosate amounting to 1 Euro per Kilo of glyphosate used. This is referred to as a “phytosanitary” tax on the use of a pollutant. It is anticipated that this tax will generate $50 million euros ($57 million dollars) annually to help farmers transition away from pesticide use.
5. A National “Glyphosate Task Force” will be formed and led by the Ministries of Ecological Transition and Agriculture. With the support of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), and other national agencies, they will report on the actions undertaken and the progress made by farmers in transitioning away from glyphosate based herbicides.
Supporting Macron’s ground-breaking plan, INRA declared that alternatives to glyphosate already exist for nearly 2/3 of the agricultural crop land.
Considerable descriptions are provided in the online platform giving farmers suggestions about changing their farming techniques. The great news is that the recommendations include the use of cover crops, no or minimal tillage and other procedures that encourage healthy soils and discourage weeds and pathogens. It thus appears there may be a major shift to agroecological or perhaps regenerative agricultural principles.
A clear description of how the program is envisioned to develop is offered here.
Glyphosate in Germany
The situation with France’s neighbor Germany seems less well developed and is apparently more complicated by political issues. Here is the situation as of November 6, 2018.
The German Minister for the Environment (Svenja Schulze) is calling for a binding date for the complete cessation of the use of glyphosate. The Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture (Julia Klockner) is resisting a complete phase-out program. She is suggesting a ban on glyphosate in public parks and private gardens and a 2020 start on a program setting aside 10% of each farm to be glyphosate-free. Key details of her suggestions are not yet available though. There is no information as to whether that 10% of the farm is always in the same area or if it rotates around the farm. There is also no mention as to a schedule for increasing the 10% farm set aside area over time.
Schulze also wants to establish pesticide protected areas and establish new regulations on all future pesticide uses in the environment. She does not wish to have new future pesticides without new regulations intended to protect the environment from harms to “biodiversity.”
But aren’t all pesticides harming biodiversity? There are no synthetic pesticides that are 100% directed at a pest only. Exactly how harms to biodiversity will be defined and measured is apparently not yet determined.
Unlike France, neither German minister has provided timing, and other details on their glyphosate phase-out programs, nor how farmers can best be making such a transition.
Through these announcements and actions, the French Government is making it clear it believes there are alternatives to using glyphosate (and other toxic herbicides) in commercial farming practices. This is a fact known to organic farmers since the beginning of agriculture. It’s called organic, agroecological, sustainable, or more recently regenerative agriculture. What is new in all this is the French government is offering mechanisms using 21st century technologies and knowledge to help farmers adopt and adapt traditional farming practices with the aid of online information, robust communication and assistance, and financial incentives to make the switch and get it right. The rewards include lower energy inputs, carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere back into the soil, higher soil organic matter to better hold moisture, increased soil fertility and provide for greater biodiversity, while improving pollinator health, fewer toxic synthetic pesticides in our foods and bodies, and potentially higher financial returns to the farmers. The actual benefits from such a model agricultural system were recently documented in a small North Italian farming town that opted to stop using synthetic pesticides.
It is our hope that this French program to abandon glyphosate use on commercial farms and in public places takes hold and becomes a model for other nations. Perhaps U.S. States, and communities may also be considering a ban on glyphosate. The State of Carinthia, Austria is another example of how pesticides can be banned.
These are important green shoots for sustainable agriculture. Let’s see them nurtured.
We, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), have released a new report which refutes the myth that municipalities need to use toxic pesticides in parks and green spaces, if they hope to avoid a dandelion apocalypse. That has been a fear expressed by some municipalities, faced with the restrictions imposed by bans on the use of toxic pesticides on lawns and gardens, particularly in Manitoba and Alberta.
Such worries have proven groundless.
CAPE’s report is based on interviews with parks managers in six municipalities across Canada – London, Guelph, St. Catharines and Toronto in Ontario, Richmond (BC) and Cape Breton Regional Municipality (Nova Scotia). All of the selected cities are operating under either municipal or provincial restrictions on the use of toxic pesticides for lawns and/or gardens.
The study found that publicly acceptable levels of weed control can be achieved at a reasonable cost without the need for toxic pest control products. Weed program managers said they have adopted cultural practices to actively maintain turf health and to reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides. These practices include mowing, aerating, overseeding, fertilizing and top-dressing.
Concerns over soaring costs for labour and allowable products have also turned out to be unfounded. Program budgets are stable, according to those interviewed for the report. Under cosmetic pesticide bans, cities are not spending more than they previously did on weed control. Instead, they are spending their available resources differently, with a focus on turf maintenance and mechanical control. Under alternative approaches, permitted pesticide products are sparingly used for specialized purposes such as weed control between sidewalks blocks and paving stones.
Parks managers acknowledged the presence of some weeds, and reported that there are some public complaints (particularly about dandelions in the spring). But, they said, complaints have decreased significantly where pesticide restrictions have been in effect for a number of years. People do not expect all green spaces in the community to be totally weed-free. A majority of residents have come to accept the groomed (but not manicured) appearance of public green spaces.
In practice, program managers are able to maintain sports fields, high-use parks and other priority locations in well-groomed condition without resorting to the more toxic pesticides. And they find residents to be supportive of weed control methods that avoid exposing people to toxic pesticides. Public complaints are described as “minimal.”
Publication of the report is another step in CAPE’s efforts to support, encourage and strengthen bans on the use of toxic pesticides on lawns and gardens across Canada. In Manitoba, where a comprehensive pesticide ban was introduced in 2015, the Province has been considering revisions because of fears about costs, expressed by municipalities. In Alberta, where there are neither municipal by-laws nor a provincial law banning the use of toxic pesticides on lawns and gardens, municipalities have resisted even adopting corporate policies that would prohibit the use of toxic pesticides on city-owned properties. The study provides evidence, based in real-world experience, that anxieties about the cost, effectiveness and public acceptance of alternatives are unwarranted.
Indeed, in light of their success in implementing cultural practices to maintain healthy plants and turf, key informants in the study said they would not return to using the banned pesticides, even if they were allowed to do so. The toxic products are simply not needed, parks managers said
“Municipal Weed Control: Lessons from Ground Zero” is available for download on CAPE’s web site.
Despite A Ban, Arkansas Farmers are Still Spraying Controversial Weedkiller
The fields and back roads of eastern Arkansas were a crime scene this past summer. State inspectors stopped alongside fields to pick up dying weeds. They tested the liquids in farmers' pesticide sprayers. In many cases, they found evidence that farmers were using a banned pesticide. Dozens of farmers could face thousands of dollars in fines.
The roots of the confrontation go back to a farming fiasco that took place last year. That's when the company Monsanto — now owned by Bayer — rolled out a new way to kill weeds. The company had created some special new varieties of soybeans and cotton that can tolerate a weedkiller called dicamba. Farmers could spray dicamba to kill their weeds, yet these new crops would survive. (It's a weed-killing strategy that Monsanto pioneered with "Roundup Ready" crops 20 years ago, but Roundup isn't working so well anymore. Weeds have become resistant to it.)
"Honestly, I don't think anybody in the whole world dreamed the dicamba could create such an issue, bring so many farmers against farmers," says Terry Fuller, a member of Arkansas' state plant board, which regulates pesticides.
When farmers started spraying dicamba on these new crops, the chemical didn't stay where it belonged. It drifted across the landscape and injured millions of acres of regular crops. The problem was especially bad in Arkansas.
Farmers who sprayed dicamba loved it, but Fuller and the plant board decided that the collateral damage was unacceptable. "Trespassing on your neighbor and your friend, that's not my definition of good for business," he told me last year.
So the plant board passed the most dramatic limits on dicamba in the country. They banned spraying dicamba after April 15 each year — which covers the entire growing season.
By mid-June of this year, though, it was clear that some farmers were defying the ban, especially in Mississippi County, in the northeastern corner of the state. Thousands of acres of soybeans that couldn't tolerate the weedkiller, as well as trees in people's yards, once again were showing the classic signs of dicamba damage: curled leaves and stunted growth. Fuller called it "a sad situation. Really, an unbelievable situation."
Photo from Pixabay.
A grassroots effort in a seaside Oregon county last year could serve as an example for how other communities can beat large corporate interests.
Last year, Lincoln County voters banned the aerial application of pesticides, despite opposition backing from companies like Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences that totaled nearly a $500,000. According to documents obtained by online publication The Intercept, pesticide-industry group CropLife America made the campaign its center of attention.
Rio Davidson, a solar panel contractor and a member of Lincoln County Community Rights – the group that wrote the ban, says the region's history of effects from pesticides helped overcome long financial odds.
"We were a bunch of committed locals that had seen these harms over 30 years, and we were here to kind of help guide the community along to a better, healthy way of living that's going to be better for our children, our wildlife and our watershed," says Davidson.
Scientific research has linked pesticides to cancer, miscarriages and other health effects. Many farmers in the area were opposed to this measure, because they said it would hurt their business.
Maria Sause is the secretary of the board of directors of Lincoln County Community Rights and retired. Sause says gave her a lot of time to dedicate to this campaign.
For Sause, this initiative was about more than pesticides. She believes there's an imbalance in the legal system that weighs justice toward corporations.
"We are a movement that works to put people's fundamental rights, like the right to safety and health, before corporate rights,” says Sause. “And in our times, our legal system really puts corporate rights above people's."
Davidson says just six people were at the core of this campaign. He thinks it's possible to replicate what happened in Lincoln County with a small group of committed individuals.
"You can organize and you can make this difference in your community, even against all the monied interests, but it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of time," says Davidson.
More than 150 localities across the country have restricted pesticide use in their jurisdictions.
The UK will back a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has revealed.
The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees. It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.
Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide but in 2013 the European Union banned their use on flowering crops, although the UK was among the nations opposing the ban. The European commission now wants a total ban on their use outside of greenhouses, with a vote expected in December, and the UK’s new position makes it very likely to pass.
“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” said Gove. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) wants to include a ban on pesticides linked to declining bee health in next year’s farm bill
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) wants to include a ban on pesticides linked to declining bee health in next year’s farm bill, one of several initiatives he is pushing in the legislation to reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs.
Thirty-one Democrats are backing a bill—the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2017 ( H.R. 3040)—that would suspend the approval of neonicotinoid pesticides, common insect-killers that are said to harm honeybees, aquatic insects, birds, and other insects and animals. H.R. 3040 would ban imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and any other neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency can determine that the pesticides won’t harm pollinators, based on peer-reviewed studies.
Blumenauer, one of the bill’s sponsors, told Bloomberg BNA he hopes the bill “will be folded into part of a larger initiative” like the next farm bill. Blumenauer is set to release a report next week outlining several measures to support small farmers, local food systems, and sustainability.