A Gray October Morning in Rennes, the capital of Brittany, France: People gathered here to support Daniel Cueff, Mayor of Langouët. He is in court for banning pesticide spray 150 meters from homes in his community. According to the prefecture, such a decision is not up to the mayor but to the state.
"The Republic must protect its inhabitants from synthetic pesticides in any case," Cueff calls to the people.
The population is increasingly concerned about the potential adverse effects of chemical sprays. Cueff: "It is extremely serious how people are poisoning themselves today. (…) I wanted to show that there are imminent dangers when sprayed with pesticides. Since the state has failed to do this, we must apply the precautionary principle in the constitution," he emphasizes.
The mayors of other French municipalities joined Cueff. At that point, they did not know that the court would overturn Cueff's pesticide ordinance – nor the farmers who drove their tractors.
Local residents are concerned about their health and farmers are concerned about their future careers. The French state recommends a safety distance between fields and houses of five to ten meters: Residents demand a greater distance – to the agitation of farmers.
"Many French communities are allowed to build homes everywhere. If security distances are set up, the cultivated areas would be affected in all municipalities. And what are you doing with this country? If these areas do not bring anything back then, how can they be used?" Henry, president of the FDSEA Farmers Association.
One is not united. The issue of pesticides has sparked heated debate in France, especially in Brittany, which dominates agriculture.
Erwan Bourdan is a beekeeper. He complains that his bee colonies are dying. In his view, pesticides are responsible for this. Bourdan: "You know that the agents are not always the same. It is important to know that only two to 20 percent of the product is absorbed by the plant during spraying. The rest is carried off by air or enters groundwater. Substances reach the ground and enter groundwater. Effects can cover many bigger space, not just a few feet around the field. "
"Ask Yourself His Questions"
One of the beekeeping neighbors is the farmer Guillaume Sauvée. Part of the fodder he uses is treated with chemicals. Refraining from spraying, many farmers say, would bring them to the brink of bankruptcy. "If people tell us we are poisons, they should give us the solution they have," Sauvée says. "Should I reduce my usable area in comparison to current livestock, I would not be able to feed my animals, and thus enough of the population."
We met again with Daniel Cueff, a fighter against pesticide use. "Farmers do their jobs worse than they are – they are economically insidious, not pesticide traders. We are attacking chemical stakeholders. There is really a problem with population health, I would say even with population freedom. People can't accept inhaling certain substances," Cueff says .
The town of Langouet is considered an exemplary example of an ecological lifestyle. Hélène Heuré lives here. "The canteen waste is still used as chicken feed," she explains. He runs a local bookstore. She and other residents of the city search her urine to know the possible remains of cancerous diseases. Heuré: "We, who are carefully gardening in a natural way, who do not use chemical cleaners and cleaners, still have an elevated level. Children's values are paramount and you ask yourself your questions."
Not only in Langouet is this talked about. A few miles away, Mathieu Lavolée grows grain. He is also concerned about the possibility of establishing a greater security boundary between fields and homes.
"There is a home, there are houses. If you are not allowed to use weed killers in such a field, it will hurt your skin," Lavolée says. Pesticide opponents' proposals are difficult to match with the way many farmers work, he says. Lavolée: "I will show you the documents, including this document, that was assigned to me after training. It allows us to use chemicals and confirms that we use them for good reason and not in any way. We do not spray in the wind because there are variations. money, we don't kind of squash them. "
There is no direct evidence of harm
Several farmers have contracted cancers that have been recognized as occupational diseases. And locals see a link between pesticide use and disease or allergies.
About 50 kilometers from Langouet lives Catherine Fargeas. Her life changed dramatically when the meadows near her home were turned into corn fields. It shows us the environment. "This is a pesticide-treated field. About two acres. My house is there. The farm is housed in a depression where rainwater, resources and manure are collected. Every year for nine years," Fargeas says.
It has found some benign growths, has allergies and hormonal imbalance. Her daughter has been suffering from respiratory illness for five years. There is no evidence that these suffering are due to the use of pesticides in the environment. But Catherine Fargeas and her family doctor are safe: it's because of the pesticide. "It wasn't until June 2018 that we first heard about environmental poisoning," says Fargeas.
She sued the landowner and the plant protection plant. It accuses the authorities of doing nothing and is strictly against the regulations, which requires a minimum distance of five to ten meters between the field and living space.
"I can't accept that people, even the government, say you don't risk spraying five meters away. Drugs are injected nine feet away and contaminated. This has ruined our lives," Fargeas says. She sees only one solution : "The most important thing is to get out of here and try to heal again, because we know it can only get worse here."