Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French sugar beet growers have warned that the u-turn on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides will impact production.
Farmers described the sudden change of policy as a breach of trust by the government, stressing that it will have negative effects on the production of sugar beet and sugar, according to RFI reporting on Wednesday.
France is the second largest producer of sugar beets in the world.
On Monday, French Minister of Agriculture and Food Marc Fesneau announced that Paris would comply with EU rules and ban the use of neonicotinoids, weeks before farmers were to plant sugar beet seeds treated with the insecticide.
The policy reversal took immediate effect and came days after the EU Court of Justice ruling that found exemptions to circumvent the bloc-wide ban to be illegal.
The French government introduced the neonicotinoid exemption for sugar beet growers after aphid infestations decimated crops across the country in 2020.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food drafted a document authorizing the use of the insecticide for the third consecutive year and Fesneau predicted that the exemption will be renewed until 2024.
Timing of the move
Farmers have warned that the policy change came after they finalized crop rotation plans and purchased their seeds in preparation for the growing season.
They noted that, while the government promised compensation for the losses caused by the u-turn, the decision will have significant negative effects on the industry.
Guillaume Gandon, Confederation of French Beet Growers vice president, warned “we fear the crop will be abandoned altogether because the risk of planting untreated beet seeds is too high.”
“This in turn would unfortunately also lead to the closure of sugar factories,” he added.
The EU and the UK banned the use of neonicotinoids in 2018 after the insecticides were found to have severe negative effects on pollinators.
Gandon noted that neonicotinoids were intended as a temporary measure until an alternative was found, but stressed that government-funded research failed to produce a viable solution.
“The state has invested 8 million euros in research, but it’s only been two years, and two years is far too short,” he concluded.