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French mayor bans pesticide use near to housing

A French mayor in Brittany has banned the use of pesticides within a certain distance of human housing, in a bid to protect inhabitants and the environment.

Mayor of Langouët (Ille-et-Vilaine), Daniel Cueff, has stated that any pesticide use in the town must be at least 150 metres away from any houses.

Currently, pesticides are used on around 700 hectares near the town, and the new ruling is set to affect most of the commune.

This is the latest in ecologically-friendly measures from the mayor: the town already has an organic canteen, an “eco neighbourhood”, and draws much of its energy from solar power.

Mr Cueff said: “We will not achieve much if we wait for the State. We must take things into our own hands. We are talking about the health of our children, our farmers [and] population.”

Yet, five local farmers have objected to the new rule, which - they said - effectively banned pesticides overnight.

Dairy farmer Benoit Morel, who uses pesticides on his crops, told news network France Info: “We are already careful to use a small amount. We treat early in the morning and late at night [to avoid people]. We are being stabbed in the back here.”

But two local organic farmers - who do not use pesticides - have welcomed the measure, as they are surrounded by fields that habitually use the chemicals.

Pesticide spraying in France is already forbidden if the wind is high, and if it is within 50 metres of a water source.

The mayor’s rule could yet be overturned by the department council, however; as happened in a similar case in Charente (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) in 2017.

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