Phytosanitary products are pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Use of illegal phytosanitary products can be voluntary but it can also be the result of farmers’ neglect. In both cases it is an environmental threat as well as an issue for consumers and farmers’ health. In order to fight against illegal phytosanitary products, the French government launched an educational campaign at the end of May 2014. This new campaign aims at warning, informing and helping professionals and suppliers to avoid any risks linked to the purchase and use of forbidden or counterfeit phytosanitary products in France.
A website was created as well as a free telephone number. Advertisements were published in the media and flyers were distributed in outlets. The campaign motto is “Illegal phytos, that’s not for me!”
Several recommendations have been made to phytosanitary products buyers:
- Purchased products have to be adapted to your professional activity
- Purchasers as well as suppliers have to get a certificate called “Certiphyto.” This will be compulsory for any person using or distributing phytosanitary products from October 2014 on.
- Phytosanitary products retailers have to be authorized. There is a governmental website where you can verify whether or not your supplier is authorized.
- A list of authorized products is available on the French ministry website. Users should make sure that the product they bought is on that list. A batch number and date of production have to be directly indelibly marked on the bag or container. Any phytosanitary product must be authorized for a type of culture, a type of pest, disease or weed, a usable dose and use conditions. All those requirements must be labeled on the product.
- You must be careful before buying a product if labeling is unclear or written in a foreign language
- You have to make sure to have the adequate individual protection equipment
- You must declare any product purchased in a foreign country
- You have to register all phytosanitary products purchases made abroad
- You must respect good practices when you use the product
This initiative forms part of the broader Ecophyto Plan. It is not the first governmental initiative to fight illegal phytosanitary products. The French ministry for Agriculture already reinforced administrative controls on farmers and suppliers. Sanctions for using illegal phytosanitary products can run up to 30,000€ (around $40,000) and a 6-month penalty of imprisonment.