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French Assemblée delays pesticide ban by three years

The French Assemblée has voted to push back its planned ban on the production of certain pesticides by three years to 2025, the same week as hundreds of thousands marched against climate change.

The Assemblée Nationale had previously voted to stop the production in France of certain pesticides that are banned by the European Union, by 2022. Now, this will not come into force until at least 2025.

The ban was set to apply to the production, stocking, and sale of certain banned phytopharmaceutical products, and which contain any substances that are prohibited by the EU under its agriculture and food laws.

After debating the issue this week, the chamber voted the delay by 27 votes to three, with seven abstentions.

Pushing the date by three years would make it more likely that companies would change their practices, rather than simply moving their production elsewhere, supporters said.

MP Roland Lescure, who supported the move, said: “If we get rid of production from one day to the next, the danger is that it will simply move down the road a few hundred kilometres, and the overall impact to the environment will be nothing.”

This new change, the government said, would “give a clear deadline to manufacturers” and make sure there was no “brutal cut-off point”.

The law will therefore come into force in 2025, and will also allow companies to obtain exemptions if they sign an agreement with the government within six months, to help fund research into pesticide alternatives.

But critics of the change said the delay would have a negative impact.

MP Barbara Pompili, former secretary of State for biodiversity, who abstained from the vote, said: “We cannot undo what we have done”, and blamed “emotional blackmail” by “cynical companies”.

MP Eric Alauzet said the vote represented the “clash between environmental questions, and economic questions.”

The vote comes in the same week as hundreds of thousands of people joined a peaceful march against climate change across France this weekend.

More than 45,000 people were counted in Paris, alongside 350,000 in total nationwide.

The “Marche du Siècle (the march of the century”) came one day after thousands of students and young people worldwide missed classes to take to the streets in the latest “Fridays for Future” action, inspired by the Youth for Climate global group and the example of Swedish teenager and climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.

In the wake of the Assemblée vote, a statement from environmental campaign group La Fondation Nicolas Hulot said: “While citizens march, the pesticide lobby moves forward, and the government retreats.”

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