• • • Macron backs down on pledge to ban glyphosate in France
French president Emmanuel Macron says that the phasing out of glyphosate-based weed killers in France by 2021, as previously announced, will be impossible, as it would hurt the agricultural industry. “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not true,” Macron said on Thursday about the government’s ability to phase out the herbicide by 1 January 2021. In November 2017 President Macron rejected a European Commission decision to reapprove the use of glyphosate for five years. He pledged to ban the product within three years.
Farmers have been pushing back, saying that three years is not enough time to find an alternative that is both economically viable and environmentally friendly. They are exempt from the ban where there is no credible alternative to the pesticide. Within months of announcing the ban, Macron recognised that 10 percent of farmers would need an exemption. Speaking yesterday during a public debate in south-eastern France, Macron said that if he went ahead with that promise he “would be completely killing some sectors”.
Agriculture minister Didier Guillaume said that because of the number of exemptions, the phase-out will probably affect only 80 percent of current users by 2021. The complete ban is a “political objective,” he said on French television on Friday: “If we get there faster, so much the better… If we don’t, the president has always said we shouldn’t leave anyone without a solution.”