Pesticide Industry Calls for Focus on Dangerousness Instead of Volume

The Phytéis association, representing major pesticide manufacturers in France, is advocating for a shift in the evaluation of phytosanitary products. Rather than prioritizing volume, they urge a focus on the dangerousness of these products. Speaking at their annual press conference in Paris, Yves Picquet, president of Phytéis, emphasized the need to reduce impacts without necessarily reducing volumes.

Phytéis is calling for a change in the method and index used to measure pesticide usage. They propose adopting a European indicator to ensure accuracy and prevent any distortion.

This plea aligns with recent governmental actions. The Prime Minister announced the suspension of the Ecophyto plan, which aimed to reduce pesticide usage by 50% by 2030 compared to 2015-17 levels. The plan will be replaced by a new indicator that will replace the current measurement tool known as Nodu.

Phytéis appreciates this step toward prioritizing dangerousness over volume. They believe that Nodu, which primarily focuses on volumes, fails to acknowledge the efforts made by farmers who have already eliminated harmful active substances from their practices.

While not explicitly endorsing a specific indicator, Phytéis acknowledges the European “harmonized risk indicator” known as HRI1 for its attempt to consider dangerousness rather than volume.

However, environmental NGOs like Future Generations criticize this European index for its low hazard coefficients and argue that it unfairly penalizes organic farming. They assert that using dangerous pesticides in lower doses may result in lower indicators compared to using low-risk pesticides.

Picquet emphasizes the need for a methodological shift centered on co-construction and incentives rather than punitive obligations. He argues that farmers use pesticides to protect their crops and cites climate change’s impact on yields.

In 2023, Phytéis members generated €2.4 billion in revenue, down 5% compared to the previous year. This decline follows a 30% increase in sales in 2022, primarily due to price increases and precautionary purchases made by customers.

Phytéis attributes the overall increase in sales volumes to the rise in active ingredients usable in organic farming, such as sulphur and copper. These products now account for over a third of total volumes sold.

Despite these numbers, the overall volumes of phytosanitary products sold in France have decreased by 17.4% since 2008, according to Phytéis. This decrease has reached 46% over the past 23 years, reflecting the impact of pesticide reduction plans like Ecophyto.

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