The Ecophyto plan was developed by the French Ministry of Agriculture in 2008 with the purpose of progressively reducing the use of pesticides while maintaining a robust agricultural economy in France. Since its inception, the program has mobilized farmers, researchers and civil servants to engage in numerous initiatives to achieve the plan’s goals across the nation. A second version of the Ecophyto plan was recently published and was reconstructed around seven fundamental principles, which are subsequently put into practice through six strategic axes.
The seven fundamental principles of the Ecophyto plan 2:
- Maintaining a 50% reduction in pesticide use in two stages : – 25% by 2020 and – 50% by 2025
- Enhancement of the qualitative aspects : a 360° surveillance of impact of pesticides
- A core element of the Agro-Ecological project
- Companies playing a central role
- The coordination of events, group projects, and collective individual initiatives
- Adaptability to the needs of each region.
- Healthy crops, happy culture
The six strategic axes for the implementation of the Ecophyto plan 2:
Axis 1 – Act today to change practices
This axis focuses on the promotion of the renovation and change of agricultural practices, such as:
- Reducing the use of pesticides
- Diversifying crops and/or make the change to organic, especially for major crops
- Updating to new generation agricultural machinery
- Promoting and developing biocontrol (eg. introducing predator insects to destroy pest populations) as alternatives as pesticides
- Increase tenfold the number of farmers committed to the transition to agro-ecology with reduced amounts of pesticides
- Expand the DEPHY network of farms from 1,900 to 3,000, participants of which are unified in alternative agricultural production methods with reduced amounts of pesticides
Axis 2 Improve the knowledge and tools for the future while encouraging research and innovation
The second axis will launch four operational R&D programs (biocontrol, agricultural equipment, innovation, weed flora) and strengthen research initiatives on integrated pest management in France and Europe as well as on health and environmental impacts of pesticides.
Axis 3 – Evaluate and manage risks and impacts
Axis 3 will aim to:
- minimize the adverse health effects that potentially result from agriculture through the surveillance of food, water and air pollution
- accelerate the removal of substances noxious to human health
- implement a pharmacovigilance system for pesticides
- crack down on frauds and offenders with sanctions
Axis 4 – Adapt the plan to territories and branches
The fourth axis aims to recruit the cooperation of all French territories and industries so that the Ecophyto Plan 2 can be implemented at the national, regional, and local level. Local communities and companies can contribute by supporting the plan and by committing to its initiatives. This would also involve special adaptation for the tropical climates of the overseas French territories and a comprehensive coverage scheme that would compensate for potential risks associated with adopting these new techniques.
Axis 5 – Accelerate the transition to a full ban on pesticides in public gardens and spaces
This means in particular:
- Developing and implementing charters in all the regions between distributors, public authorities, and gardening associations
- Banning the over-the-counter sale of all products being phased out of use by 2022
- Enhancing the collection and the destruction of unused pesticides and emptying packaging among the non-professional gardeners,
- Compelling communities and administrators of public spaces to commit to the reduction of pesticide use.
Axis 6 – Communicate and strengthen the plan’s progress
The monitoring of pesticide consumption indicators, such as the frequency and dose of usage of plant protection products, will continue. In addition, new kinds of indicators will be developed and utilized (indicators for product toxicity, health effects, impacts on biodiversity, pest resistance, change in agricultural practices, etc…)
The hope is that heightened communication will encourage farmers and agricultural business professionals to reduce pesticide use and convince them that this reduction can and will serve to be an economic, environmental and social boon.