Beekeepers have reacted with anger to the French government’s decision to partially re-authorize insecticides belonging to the banned neonicotinoid family. The government intends to support a legislative amendment in parliament later in 2020 to exempt sugar beet for up to 3 years.
Back in April 2018 it was reported that France was the first country to ban all 5 neonicotinoid pesticides and that their new ban on pesticides would go further than those of the EU, in an attempt to protect the country's declining bee population.
Neonicotinoids are lethal to the central nervous systems of bees and can be addictive to them. Depending on the amount of exposure, it cripples and kills them.
The following video is less than 3 minutes long and refers to the time in 2018 when France enacted the full ban on neonicotinoids:
Fast forward two years to August 2020 and it is reported that France intends to relax the ban on pesticides for sugar beets to limit crop losses.
The Ministry of Agriculture reports that the sugar beet crop was ravaged by insects this year. Following a meeting with the sugar industry, the ministry said it will reverse the blanket neonicotinoid ban for up to three years.
The French sugar industry is in crisis mode. Plants have closed and prices have fallen in recent years. The jaundice virus, transmitted by aphids, has increased significantly and is having a severe detrimental impact on sugar beet production.
The ministry is making 5 million euros (approximately US$5.9 million) available to support research into alternatives to neonicotinoids. Meanwhile, the proposed re-authorization of neonicotinoid pesticides for sugar beet should be ready for the spring 2021 spring planting season.
French farmers do not see a conflict between bee protection and allowing the use of these toxic pesticides for sugar beets because sugar beets do not bloom so bees are not drawn to the crop.
They have been critical of the French authorities for having issued a general ban on neonicotinoids in comparison to the European Union, which allowed regulated exemptions.
The ministry said the exemption for sugar beet will only apply to pre-treated seeds. Spraying of neonicotinoids on the field will continue to be prohibited.
Crop producers with heavy losses in 2020, some as high as 50%, will qualify for compensation according to the ministry.
French environmentalists are upset about this development. Greenpeace, French beekeepers and other environmental organizations see this as President Macron’s administration caving in to the powerful French sugar beet industry, which happens to be the second largest producer in the world.