France Lets Farmers Use More Pesticides To Protect Sugar Output

By Reuters
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France Lets Farmers Use More Pesticides To Protect Sugar Output

French farmers will be allowed to apply more pesticides on their sugar beet fields this year due to a high risk of attacks from an insect carrying a disease that had ravaged crops in 2020, France's deputy agriculture minister said.

The yellows disease led to a 26% fall in French sugar output in 2020, prompting the government to allow sugar beet growers to use a pesticide called neonicotinoids banned in the European Union over risks to bees.

France had to drop the exemptions last year after an EU court said these were illegal, but farmers and scientists say alternatives as effective as the pesticide are not ready yet.

'Give Solutions To Farmers'

"With a mild winter, we have a very high risk of aphids multiplying and therefore of yellows disease on sugar beets," deputy agriculture minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, told France Bleu Nord radio.

"Beet is sugar, we are not going to import more sugar without taking care of this risk, so our objective is to give solutions to farmers."


Beet growers will be allowed to make up to five applications of Spirotetramat, developed by Bayer CropScience under the brand Movento, from two currently, with three applications allowed from the start and another two in case needed, she said.

This comes in addition to ISK Bioscience's flonicamid-based pesticide Teppeki, which has been in use for years, the farm ministry said separately.

The sugar beet area in France is expected to rebound slightly this year, after a 6% drop to a 14-year low in 2023, as farmers are encouraged by high sugar prices.

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