World hearing before MEPs reopens controversy

hearing before MEPs reopens controversy

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Posters against the use of SDHI in Langouet, October 14, 2019. DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

This is a new episode in the controversy over SDHI pesticides. In early November 2019, officials of the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) were questioned by a dozen deputies on SDHI pesticides (for "succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors") . For the past eighteen months, these substances have been at the center of a lively debate between ANSES and several researchers, the latter believing that the health and environmental dangers of these products used on a wide variety of crops are underestimated.

The report of the hearing was sent on Thursday 9 January to the Assembly’s environmental health group. According to Pierre Rustin (CNRS), one of the researchers who launched the alert on SDHIs in the fall of 2017, the intervention contains false assertions. "Contrary to what the press generally says, this is not a new product, this is not a new authorization, these are products that have been authorized for several decades today in our country, notably declared in the preamble Roger Genet, the director of ANSES. There are no new authorizations that have been issued in our country, contrary to what is spread on social networks and in the press. "

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also SDHI pesticides: the researchers' warning validated

However, in its January 2019 report on SDHIs – prepared in response to whistleblowers -, ANSES made a different observation. Only two of the eleven substances belonging to this family are authorized " since many decades " (1968 and 1992). Another was introduced in 2005, but the other eight were introduced after 2011, the three most recent in 2016, 2017 and 2018. At ANSES, we mention a " shortcut " linked to the "Extension" of a complex subject. "ANSES minimizes or denies the development of SDHIs in practice (Agricultural) these last years ", observed for his part the deputy (LFI) of Gironde, Loïc Prud’homme, who attended the hearing.

“Not mentioned” study

That's not all. During the meeting, the deputy of Deux-Sèvres Delphine Batho, had questioned the persons in charge of the agency on the reasons for which an in vitro study of 2012 suggesting the genotoxicity (the toxicity for DNA) of one of SDHI (bixafen), was not mentioned in the same report. Again, Mr. Genet wanted to be reassuring, saying that the study in question had indeed been " mentionned(E) in meta-journals that have been cited. " "We don't necessarily list all the articles", he explained.

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