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Daily News Blog

13
Jul

France Enacts Sweeping Restrictions on Pesticide Use in Public and Private Landscaped Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2022) A new law in France bans the use of lawn and landscape pesticides in both public and private areas frequently used by the public. The law, which came into effect at the beginning of this month, applies throughout the country and extends the scope of a previous decree that restricted pesticide use on green spaces in public areas. As it stands, France’s previous approach is set to be adopted by the entirety of the European Union under its Farm to Fork initiative goals of reducing overall pesticide use by 50% by 2030. This new law, which tracks most similarly to restrictions enacted in most Canadian provinces and by certain U.S. cities like South Portland and Portland, ME, highlights the importance of extending pesticide restrictions to most all outdoor spaces to ensure health and environmental safety.

The new restrictions apply to a laundry list of sensitive sites where pesticide use can unnecessarily harm individuals or the wider public:

  • Private residential properties, including their outdoor areas
  • Hotels, hostels, lodgings, camping sites and residential leisure parks
  • Cemeteries
  • Allotments [community gardens];
  • Amusement, entertainment and recreation parks with a variety of activities and facilities;
  • Areas accessible to the public in areas intended for commercial and service activities;
  • Private access roads, green areas and rest areas in workplaces;
  • Areas for public use in educational establishments;
  • Health establishments, nursing homes and health centers, including their green spaces, forests, roads or pathways accessible or open to the public;
  • Social and medical establishments, except establishments that are providing or participating in vocational training, or providing assistance through work that could potentially lead to the use of these products, including their green spaces, their forests, their roads, or their promenades accessible or open to the public;
  • The homes of childcare assistants and the homes of childcare assistants who take in minors, including their green spaces;
  • Aerodromes assigned primarily to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, with the exception of areas where treatment is necessary for reasons of aeronautical safety or airport security; and,
  • Sports facilities.

Pesticides considered low risk and/or allowed in organic farming are not subject to the restrictions, as these represent the least-toxic yet still effective products on the market. Only a limited set of exemptions to use more toxic products are permitted under the decree, including against harmful or non-native species, and the need to combat a serious health hazard that cannot be controlled by other means. Sports fields “for which no alternative technical solution makes it possible to obtain the quality required within the framework of official competitions” are granted a limited exemption to use a list of pesticides created by French officials responsible for sports and entertainment.

These restrictions, now in force throughout the country, provide an important example for U.S. residents awash in pesticide use from all angles. Beyond Pesticides regularly receives calls from individuals indicating they were poisoned in nearly every area included in the bullet points above. In the case of highly sensitive areas like health establishments, nursing homes, and childcare facilities, the restrictions protect children and the elderly from unnecessary exposure both inside and outside the establishment.

As the EU works to address the health risks of pesticides, stop their movement into waterways, and reverse pollinator and insect decline through legally binding targets for its member states, the United States is lagging far behind. The U.S. government has been antagonistic toward EU pesticide regulations and the Farm to Fork initiative, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack confidently understating that it is “a path very different from the one the U.S. is pursuing.”

While certain states, like Connecticut and New York, have enacted strong limitations on pesticide use around sensitive sites like schools, most of the country is left unprotected from hazards pesticides frequently used on their public parks, playing fields, and school grounds, let alone hotels, cemeteries, and their workplaces. In the United States, pesticides are sprayed in and around hospitals, and even prominent cancer facilities, with the endorsement of hospital administrators.  

While over 200 American cities and counties have enacted some level of pesticide restrictions, only a small portion of them apply to private property. Those that do are in certain states that did not pass pesticide preemption laws put forward by the American Legislative Exchange Council and the pesticide industry. In these states, such as Maine and Maryland, local governments have stepped in to protect their residents and unique local ecology by enacting restrictions on both public and private property.

France’s actions show the value of rejecting the pesticide industry’s efforts to argue a false equivalence between economic concerns and protection of health and the environment. It is possible to maintain beautiful green spaces without pesticides at costs that on par with chemical-intensive practices. But beyond that fact is the critical importance of placing people, the environment, and long-term sustainability above the motives of profit and exploitation. For more information on the benefits of organic land care practices, see Beyond Pesticides program page on Nontoxic Lawns and Landscapes.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Connexion France

 

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