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June 16 — France's top environmental official is calling for gardening stores to stop selling Monsanto's Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides to consumers, but nongovernmental organizations said her move carries no legal weight.
Ségolène Royal, minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, visited a gardening store in the Paris suburb of Bonneuil-sur-Marne June 16 to push stores to stop selling pesticides to consumers, before they are legally barred from doing so beginning Jan. 1, 2022, under a 2014 law, the ministry said.
In the past week, Royal has said that she in particular wants such a ban on sales of products based on glyphosate, noting that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a UN specialized agency, in March classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” one of five pesticides and herbicides it classified that day as either “likely” or “possible” causes of cancer.
Monsanto Corp. has disputed the IARC's assessment of glyphosate.
The minister made her comments as the government conducts a weeks-long public consultation on its so-called Ecophyto 2 plan to halve pesticide use by 2025, which among other things would move up the ban on consumer pesticide sales to 2018.
Royal's announcement only applies the proposed Ecophyto 2 measure to a particular pesticide, without setting any date for that to happen: it doesn't mean that there is now a ban of sales of Roundup to consumers, the NGO Generations Futures said in a June 14 statement.
“We would welcome an accelerated ban of pesticides to consumers in France, but the minister's latest announcement does not do that,” it said. “It is not at all certain that garden stores will agree to withdraw these products from sale, especially considering that the minister's communication doesn't say if there will be a specific legislative measure to back up this request, or if she is counting on them to do so voluntarily.”
The NGO Agir pour l'Environnement (Act for the Environment) said some 70,000 people have signed a petition urging Royal to ban sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based products. “Her recent statements are a first encouraging step but now need to be put into law,” it said.
The Ministry of Agriculture is conducting a public consultation through June 29 on Ecophyto 2, which aims to revive a failed earlier version of the plan that aimed to halve pesticide use by 2018.
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Information about the Ecophyto 2 consultation is available, in French, at http://agriculture.gouv.fr/Consultation-publique-Ecophyto-II.
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