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France reverses course on banning insecticide to allow grain exports to North Africa
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France will continue to export grain to countries in North Africa after the food safety watchdog agreed to roll back a planned ban of phosphine, an insecticide that certain countries require to be used to treat grain before it is offloaded. The agency also announced a ban on a popular herbicide that the EU suspects is carcinogenic.

Anses, France’s national food safety agency, had initially planned to impose a ban on the use of phosphine on 25 April, because it poses a danger to human health, despite its effectiveness in killing off pest insects in grain.

The French government had pushed back against the impending ban, saying that it would negatively impact French exports to clients in Africa, as countries like Egypt, Algeria or Morocco, will not offload French grain if it has not been fumigated with the pesticide.

Anses on Thursday agreed to authorise the use of phosphine under a European Union regulation that allows it to be used on grain going to countries that ″require or accept″ it to ″prevent the introduction of invasive organisms″.

The government and grain exporters welcomed the decision, which they said will keep France competitive in a market that would otherwise be dominated by Russia, the world’s top producer of wheat.

Herbicide banned

While Anses allowed the use of phosphine in certain conditions, it banned a powerful herbicide S-metolachlor, even though Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau had asked for the agency to reevaluate the decision.

The European chemicals agency last June determined that S-metolachlor was a ″suspected carcinogen″, though had not yet banned it.

Originally produced by Swiss chem


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