THE FRENCH government is continuing its push to end the use of the herbicide glyphosate in spite of a larger than expected number of farmers applying for exemptions from the ban.
French officials expect that by the end of 2021 the use of glyphosate in France will have dropped 80 per cent.
It comes after the pledge from French president Emmanuel Macron in November 2017 to ban the controversial weed killer, which was seldom out the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2018, not least a court decision in the US which found it contributed to a man’s cancer.
The European Union came within a whisker of a ban on the herbicide, but opted at the last minute to instead grant a five year extension for the use of the product.
This has not stopped EU member France from pursuing its own mission to ban the product.
French farmers are furious about the decision, saying it will impact their ability to control weeds and are still protesting, saying a three year transition to the ban is not long enough to allow them to find suitable alternatives.
The government has relented and has allowed some farmers an exemption.
However, the wording of the exemption, which allows for the use of glyphosate when there is ‘no credible alternative’ has been under fire as not being clear enough.
The French government initially expected only about 10 per cent of growers would need exemptions but this number has since grown.
European soils and climate are more forgiving to tillage than Australia, where farmers have said a ban on glyphosate would decimate the cropping sector, however it is still expected to have a big impact on French grain production.