Paris and four other French cities BAN the use of synthetic pesticides amid growing anti-chemical movement – but critics label it a ‘publicity stunt’
- Paris, Lille, Nantes, Grenoble and Clermont-Ferrand have implemented the ban
- Move mainly symbolic as bans on pesticides are already in place in public places
- Likely to pressure Government as all five cities run by left-wing or Green parties
- Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne slammed the move as a ‘publicity stunt’
Five French cities have banned the use of synthetic pesticides amid an anti-chemicals movement that began in the countryside and is sweeping the nation.
Paris, Lille, Nantes, Grenoble and the central city of Clermont-Ferrand joined in implementing the ban, citing the need to safeguard biodiversity and public health.
The move is mainly symbolic given that a 2017 law already bans the use of synthetic pesticides in public parks and spaces.
All five of the cities are run by left-wing or Green parties and the move is likely to put pressure on Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Government to apply the ban nation-wide.
Five French cities have banned the use of synthetic pesticides as an anti-chemicals movement sweeps the country. But it has been branded a ‘publicity stunt’ by critics
Paris, Lille, Nantes, Grenoble and Clermont-Ferrand joined in implementing the ban, citing the need to safeguard biodiversity and public health
Since January, home gardeners countrywide have also been banned from using synthetic pesticides. They may use only those made with natural ingredients.
There are only a select few urban areas not included by the bans, including green spaces managed by private property owners, such as in apartment blocks, or companies such as state rail operator SNCF.
SNCF use the controversial weedkiller glyphosate – linked to cancer and kidney disease – to keep train tracks clear.
Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne slammed Thursday’s announcement as a ‘publicity stunt’.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government has previously proposed banning the use of pesticides to within 5-10 metres (15-35 feet) of residential areas. But it was criticised by environmentalists for ‘not going far enough’.
The head of the Greens group in Lille city council, Stephane Baly, said the city’s aim was ‘to make the government cave in’.
The current bans do not cover some 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of land in Paris, according to Penelope Komites, an MP of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s Socialist Party.
‘We have to protect our city’s inhabitants,’ she said.
Dozens of small towns and villages, where houses abut fields, have already issued decrees cracking down on the use of chemical sprays.
The movement began in earnest in May last year in the Brittany village of Langouet, where a mayor banned the use of pesticides within 150 metres of a home or business.
A court later invalidated the ban, ruling that only the state has the power to ban pesticides for public health reasons.
But Mayor Daniel Cueff had by then already won legions of admirers, with villages and towns, from the Normandy town of Val-de-Reuil to the wealthy Paris suburb of Sceaux, following suit.
The bans reflect the growing concern among French citizens, particularly in rural areas, over the continued use of the weedkilling chemical glyphosate, found in herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup.
France is one of the EU’s heaviest users of the herbicide, which is widely used by farmers to spray crops even though the World Health Organization has described it as ‘probably carcinogenic’, a finding disputed by Monsanto.
The impact of chemical pollution has slowly risen up the political agenda in France as voters grow increasingly concerned about environmental degradation and climate change.
The issue is expected to be among voters’ top priorities when they go to the polls in local elections next year.