As you may have heard, a farmer has finally had success in suing Monsanto for pesticide poisoning after claiming he suffered a handful of health problems. The news story of the lawsuit has also shined light on one significant detail. France, the largest agricultural producer in the European Union, has a goal of a 50% reduction in pesticide use between 2008 and 2018. Initial results have shown a 4% cut between 2008 and 2010.
In 2008, the French government started a plan called Ecophyto 2018, in response to the EU’s 2006 Sustainable Use Directive, which called for all countries to create policies on cutting pesticide use. The goal of Ecophyto is to meet the target pesticide reduction target while maintaining efficient farm production levels.
After the launch of Ecophyto, the government added a few more goals in 2009. There has now been a French policy put in place to expand certified-organic farming acreage from 2% to 20% of the nation’s total farmland by 2020. Another goal is to achieve “high environmental value” certification on at least half of the nation’s farms, which involves reducing fertilizer use. Lastly, 40 toxic pesticides are being withdrawn from commercial use. Pretty dedicated list, isn’t it?
In comparison to standards put in place by the U.S., this is all pretty mind-blowing. Organic agriculture is completely demeaned by the USDA, and the Farm Bill gives farmers incentives for growing as much of certain crops as possible, particularly cotton, corn, and soy (and we already know how farm subsidies in the US make corn cheaper than most other veggies).
Any chance the U.S. will follow suit in these lofty goals, or do you think it’s going to continue to farm, farm, farm and spray, spray, spray, environment, and public safety be damned?