After its definitive approval by the Parliament on 20 July 2016, and its validation by the Constitutional Council on 4 August 2016, the law for biodiversity regrowth, nature and landscapes was published in the French Official Journal on 9 August 2016.
It took more than two years of legislative procedure for the bill to be written in national law. The final version contains 174 articles.
The key measures of this law include:
– the creation of the French Agency dedicated to biodiversity (“AFB”), bringing together four existing organisations (National office for water and aquatic environments, Agency for the protection of marine environments, Establishment for French national parks, Institute for natural spaces called ATEN) and being operational from 1st January 2017 with a staff of 1200 employees;
– the inclusion of the principle of compensation of ecological damage (“polluter pays” principle) in the civil code;
– the inclusion of several principals in the Code of the Environment such as “non-regression of environmental protection” and “no net loss of biodiversity“.
In the pesticide field, neonicotinoids ban was adopted. Indeed, article 125 sets that the use of products containing active substance(s) from the neonicotinoid family and the use of seeds treated with these products is forbidden from 1st September 2018. Exemptions may be granted until 1 July 2020 by joint Order of the Ministers in charge of Agriculture, Environment and Health. The Order will be based on the evaluation by Anses of the benefits and risks linked to the uses of authorised plant protection products containing neonicotinoids compared to the uses of available substitution products and alternative strategies (‘comparative assessment’). The assessment will cover the impacts on the environment, in particular on pollinators, on public health and on agriculture. The assessment will be made public.
Moreover, for non-professional users, the self-service sales of plant protection products is widened by article 125 to products authorised for organic farming (Article L.254-7 of the French Rural Code, previously modified by the law No.2015-992 of 17 August 2015 regarding energy transition). As such, biocontrol products, products based on basic substances only and products authorised for organic farming will continue to be sold in self-service to amateurs after January 1, 2017.
Among the laws’ measures, it can also be highlighted that patenting products obtained essentially by biological means is forbidden and that the public domain varieties can be freely exchanged or given for free between amateur gardeners or farmers.
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