After the climate and air pollution, it is for the collapse of biodiversity that the State finds itself in court. A hearing is being held Thursday in Paris in an unprecedented case, with at its heart the questioning by NGOs of the massive use of pesticides. Five environmental defense NGOs (Pollinis, Notre affair à tous, the National Association for the Protection of Waters and Rivers, Biodiversity under our feet, and Aspas) have filed an appeal for faulty failure of the State before the administrative court from Paris.

A long-awaited first hearing is held Thursday from 2 p.m. in this procedure called “Justice for the living”, launched in 2021. A rally in support of the appeal will be organized just before. The public rapporteur will deliver her conclusions during the hearing, often but not always followed by the judges, and it will then be necessary to wait at least two weeks before a decision.

This file follows other cases in which the State has already been condemned, on its climate action and for air pollution. “We really imagined it at the start as the biodiversity counterpart of the deal of the century”, where the state’s deficiency in the fight against climate change was recognized, says Justine Ripoll, of Our business to all.

In “Justice for the Living”, the NGOs specifically point to a failure of the State “in the establishment of risk assessment procedures and authorizations for the marketing of pesticides”, the use of which by the Intensive agriculture is “immoderate”. They also attack the lack of monitoring of the effects of authorized products (pharmacovigilance), the State’s failure to fulfill its obligations in terms of water protection and the failure to meet the pesticide reduction targets in the Ecophyto plans.

Since the Grenelle de l’environnement, at the end of 2007, which had set an objective of reducing the use of synthetic pesticides by 50% in ten years, the two successive plans implemented, Écophyto 1 and 2, have indeed succeeded. to failures. Over the past 30 years, in Europe, populations of flying insects have decreased by 75% and populations of farmland birds have fallen by 30% in France, according to studies cited by NGOs.

The latest studies confirm this observation and the link with agrochemicals. Scientists have just published a study, based on a mass of unprecedented data, highlighting the intensification of agriculture as the main cause of the spectacular decline of birds in Europe, which are some 20 million to disappear on average each year. “The main cause of this collapse, pesticides are now authorized after a flawed evaluation process, which does not identify or ban the products responsible for the decline of insects, birds and all ordinary biodiversity,” the NGOs note.

In its statement of defence, the State, represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, considers that it has no room for maneuver in relation to European law. The authorization procedure for placing plant protection products on the market is fully harmonized by EU law which “takes into account the defense of the environment”, according to the document, consulted by AFP. As for the non-compliance with the Ecophyto plans, the objectives set by the latter have “a programmatic value and cannot have a binding scope”, says the State, thus affirming that it cannot be held legally responsible.

Phyteis, a professional union which brings together pesticide giants such as BASF, Bayer and Syngenta, also joined in the battle by filing a brief in support of the State with the administrative court a few weeks ago. The lobby stresses in a press release that the European regulations are “one of the strictest in the world”, it advances a “multifactorial character” in the collapse of biodiversity and poses “the benefits and the effectiveness of the reasoned use plant protection products in terms of the supply of agricultural sectors, sovereignty and food security”.