This page is a part of the corpus (Annexe 1) used to write Stéphane Foucart and neonicotinoids.

Here, I relate what the journalist said in his article “Le gouvernement va réintroduire les insecticides « tueurs d’abeilles »”. All quotes, originally in French, were translated by me.

Following the beet yellows epidemic transmitted by an infestation of aphids (Myzus persicae), the Ministry of Agriculture announced on August 6 a support plan for the sector providing in particular exemptions allowing the use of NNI. The latter, also called “bee killers”, had however been banned by the 2016 biodiversity law.

This was “one of the main demands of beet growers, especially as other European countries are also waiving the ban.” Franck Sander, president of CGB is said to have estimated the loss for the planters at 150 to 200 million euros.

François Veillerette, director of Generations Futures denounces “an unacceptable setback which shows that this government easily bends under the weight of agrochemical and industrial agriculture lobbies, and has given up being the leader in the fight against insecticides that kill ‘bees in Europe’.”

The ministry says there was no alternative. According to ITB, there are alternatives, but they are either too toxic for the auxiliaries or substances that do not persist enough and therefore require more frequent passages.

The ministry justifies its decision also on the grounds that the beets don’t produce flowers before harvest, limiting their impact on pollinators. However, “a large number of studies carried out in recent years have shown that the impact of neonicotinoids used in seed coating could be indirect”, in particular by lasting soil contamination. Surprisingly, organic beets were “little or not affected by jaundice”:

  • Loïc Tridon, researcher at the regional organization of organic agriculture (Hauts de France) observes that the organic beet plots in the region “are hardly affected by this problem”. “We do not know why, it may be related to the size of the plots.”
  • Victor Charlot, technical advisor to the Organic Farmers Group of Île-de-France, estimates that the damage linked to beet yellows is, in organic farms, “very limited” in his region.