Mayor in French Caribbean vows to 'fight on' after judges dismiss pesticide pollution case

Écologie — Interview

Earlier this month judges in Paris dismissed a legal case brought by residents from the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe over the widespread use of the pesticide chlordecone which has polluted local ecosystems. The Green mayor of Pointe-à-Pitrre in Guadeloupe, Harry Durimel, who is also a lawyer acting for victims of the pesticide, has announced his intention to appeal. In an interview with Mediapart's Mickaël Correia, he talks about the harmful impact of the court ruling – including on how France's overseas citizens will now view the French state.

French study identifies further grave illnesses linked to chemical pesticides

France — Interview

France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, INSERM, has published a report on its studies into the use of pesticides and the increasing evidence of their causal effect on grave pathologies, including cancers, among farmers and also among children. Amélie Poinssot interviews toxicologist Xavier Coumoul, a co-author of the report.  

French MPs approve 'bee-killer' pesticides for sugar beet farmers

France — Link

French parliamentarians on Tuesday voted in favour of giving sugar beet farmers, whose crops were diminished this year, a special derogation to use neonicotinoids, a form of pesticide, against rampant aphids and which environmentalists say disrupts bees' reproduction modes and sense of orientation.

French mayors defy government with local bans on pesticides and herbicides


A growing number of French mayors have issued by-laws this year banning the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides in their communes. But these have been regularly overturned by local administrative tribunals which have ruled the measures to be illegal as only central government has the power to issue such prohibitions. Earlier this month, however, a tribunal upheld the by-laws issued by the mayors of two Paris suburbs, ruling that the government had failed in its responsibilities to protect public health. With nationwide municipal elections due next spring, the issue is fast developing into a political hot potato for President Emmanuel Macron who has insisted that the rebel mayors must abide by the law.

Anger at end of probe into malformed baby clusters in rural France

France — Link

French medical reasearchers have denounced the ending of an official investigation into several instances in three geographically distanced rural communities of babies born without all their limbs, which some suspect is due to the use nearby of agro-chemicals.  

France bans all five pesticides linked to bee loss

France — Link

Move to ban five so-called neonicotinoids hailed by beekeepers but farmers warn it could leave them all but defenceless in protecting crops.

Pesticides blamed for 'catastrophic' decline in French bird population

France — Link

Two scientific studies have found that the bird population in France has fallen by as much as a third over the past 15 years, and in some regions by two-thirds, a situation described as 'catastrophic' by one biologist involved in the research and which is believed to be due to the decline in insect numbers due to the use of pesticides.

French NGO reports scale of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables

France — Link

Environmental group Générations Futures has released a report based on France's official food safety agency figures that show almost three-quarters of fruit and more than two-fifths of non-organic vegetables on sale in the country contain pesticide residues, wand that 3.5 percent of vegetables and 2.7 percent of fruit are contaminated above officially recognised safety levels.

The toxic progression of agrochemicals in France

France — Investigation

The European Union on Monday gave the go-ahead to extend the licence for sales of the herbicide glyphosate, recognised by the World Health Organisation as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, for a further five years. The French government, which voted against move, has decided to unilaterally limit the licence to market glyphosate to three years. But France remains Europe’s biggest user, by volume, of agrochemicals, including many considered by scientific studies to present a health risk. Mediapart, in partnership with online journal Mediacités, details here, region by region and with interactive charts, their sales in France by volume, which in turn provides an indication of where they are most employed.

French PM overrules farm minister on pesticide ban

France — Link

Édouard Philippe reconfirmed ban on neonicotinoids hours after agriculture minister Stèphane Travert had said he wanted to soften it.

Historic damages award for French factory workers harmed by pesticides


In a legal first in France, a court has awarded damages to two ex-employees of a Brittany animal feed firm after they were exposed to pesticides at work. The award is a milestone because it recognises that what is known as 'multiple chemical sensitivity' from pesticide exposure is an occupational disease, and lays the blame squarely with the employer. The ruling also recognises that agricultural workers can be affected even if they do not work in the fields. Jade Lindgaard reports.

How biggest polluters earn most from EU farm subsidies


As European farm ministers met earlier this month at a château in France's Loire Valley to reframe EU agricultural policy, a detailed study of European farm aid has revealed a major contradiction right at the heart of that policy; that the most polluting farms actually receive the most cash from subsidies. And amid French farmers' protests against falling prices and shrivelling incomes, the study also showed that in the current economic context, the usual strategy of continually boosting production is no longer an option. Jade Lindgaard reports.

French vinyard worker wins pesticide illness case

France — Link

The woman has won a lengthy legal battle for recognition that she developed debilitating illnesses after tending to vine spraid with pesticide.

France to ban a pesticide to protect bees

France — Link

Officials move to stop use of Cruiser OSR pesticide, which is used to treat rapeseed, after scientists suggested it could pose a danger to bees.

The French farmers fighting the deadly pesticide taboo

France — Report

Last month, French cereal farmer Paul François, 47, won a lengthy legal battle against US biotech giant Monsanto in a landmark ruling by a court in Lyon that could open a floodgate of complaints by farmers for chemical poisoning. François was found to have become severely handicapped as a direct result of his contamination by Lasso, a powerful herbicide produced by Monsanto. France is Europe’s biggest user, by volume, of pesticides, and worldwide only India and the United States use more. For François and other campaigners seeking to alert farmers to the dangers of chemical-based phytosanitary products, their battle targets not only the clout of the industrial lobby and a reluctance of the medical profession to recognise the illnesses caused by pesticides, but also a silent taboo among the farming community itself. Claire Le Nestour reports.