Top EU court backs French pesticide ban

Ruling in favour of caution when it comes to protecting bees, the European Court of Justice on Thursday found that France did not violate EU rules when it banned certain chemicals considered harmful to bees.

As dpa reports, the legal dispute between the French Crop Protection Association and France goes back to 2018, when the government banned some pesticides from the neonicotinoid group. The Crop Protection Association brought the case to court, arguing that the French decree was incompatible with an EU regulation on the neonicotinoid family.

But on Thursday, the Luxembourg-based court ruled that France had given enough evidence that its decree was necessary to mitigate "a serious risk to human or animal health or to the environment."

The pesticides have been the subject of explosive debate, and the French government has rowed back on parts of the 2018 decree following pressure by beetroot growers. This has led to political tension across parties in the country: This week, the pesticides were once again at the centre of a row between the French government and the left-wing and green opposition, which accuses President Emmanuel Macron of backsliding on his environmental commitments.

On Tuesday, the French National Assembly approved a government proposal to give beetroot growers an exemption from the neonicotinoid ban until July 2023, after harvests were hit by a virus carried by aphids. The exemption triggered a rebellion even within Macron's centrist party, with more than 60 of its 271 deputies voting against or abstaining.

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