During the International Agriculture Fair on February 27, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced the launch of an ecological planning project focusing on using phytopharmaceutical products and adapting crop protection techniques. The project aims to phase out the most concerning active substances and encourage stakeholders to provide farmers with a broader range of solutions for crop protection. The initiative was launched by Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty; Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research; Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion; and Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, Minister Delegate for Territorial Organization and Health Professions.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty established working groups for each of the seven identified sectors: major crops (cereals, oilseeds, sugar beet, potatoes), fruits and vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, vineyards, horticulture, seeds, ultramarine crops, and organic crops. The working groups, led by the Directorate-General for Food (DGAL) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, will assess existing short, medium, and long-term issues.
These groups will collaborate with the relevant industries to establish a European timeline for phasing out active substances, identify the most threatened uses, and explore the range of available alternatives with proven efficacy. The working groups will also analyze the maturity of these alternatives, implement them, and intensify research and innovation efforts, particularly within France, in 2030.
The project involves technical institutes, inter-professions, specialists from ANSES and INRAE, and experts from the DGAL to provide farmers with alternative chemical and non-chemical techniques for threatened active substances. In addition, the General Council for Food, Agriculture, and Rural Spaces (CGAAER) will offer expertise and support to the working groups.
This new sector-based approach, which focuses on anticipating the withdrawal of certain substances and fostering innovation and closer support for farmers, is part of the Ecophyto 2030 plan. The plan, announced by the Prime Minister, is set to be finalized by the start of 2023.
Additionally, a €6.25 million call for projects has been launched under the Ecophyto II+ plan, prioritizing the development of non-chemical alternatives to herbicides in line with the priorities identified by the industries. This challenge is familiar to many sectors and represents a significant opportunity for growth.