L’avenir du glyphosate

Par le 15 janvier 2018

Le 27 novembre dernier, le glyphosate a fait l’objet d’un comité d’appel réunissant les membres de l’Union Européenne afin de discuter du renouvellement de la licence du produit. Et pour cause, cet herbicide utilisé par un très grand nombre d’agriculteurs dans le monde a été déclaré comme dangereux pour la santé.

 

Le glyphosate, c’est quoi ?

Tout débute en 1950. Pour la première fois, le chimiste Henri Martin synthétise la molécule de glyphosate mais ne lui trouve cependant pas d’utilité. Il laisse donc sa découverte de côté.

Puis, dans les années 70, un chercheur américain au service de Monsanto découvre que cette même molécule empêche la fabrication des protéines nécessaires au développement des plantes.
Ce qui fait d’elle un herbicide non sélectif capable de tuer presque tous les végétaux en contact.
Le glyphosate est alors commercialisé en 1974 sous la marque Roundup, appartenant à cette même entreprise.
Mais en 2000, le brevet du produit ayant été rendu public, d’autres industries sont alors en mesure de produire l’herbicide.

Pour rentrer dans les détails, le glyphosate est en fait un accélérateur du processus de maturité des plantes et élimine les mauvaises herbes présentes sur les lieux de récolte. Ce processus n’a d’ailleurs aucun effet sur la culture suivante. Plus encore, il n’est pas nécessaire de retourner la terre, ce qui favorise le développement des techniques agricoles de conservation des sols.

Le glyphosate, dangereux pour la santé ?

Dès les années 90, le Docteur James Parry exprime déjà son inquiétude concernant la dangerosité du produit. Une analyse plus poussée est alors demandée mais l’industrie refusa d’effectuer le test.
En mars 2015, le Centre International de Recherche sur le Cancer (CIRC) publia un rapport sur les risques du glyphosate concernant la santé et l’environnement.
Ils constatèrent que cet herbicide présente très certainement un caractère cancérogène, notamment pour les agriculteurs et les populations rurales proches du produit au quotidien. De même, sa toxicité est élevée pour la faune, la flore et les sols en contact.

Cependant, l’Agence Européenne des produits chimiques considère encore le glyphosate comme un herbicide non cancérigène.

Mais alors pourquoi continue-t-on à l’utiliser ?

Ce produit agricole est encore énormément prisé puisqu’il s’agit de l’herbicide le plus vendu dans le monde, dû à son prix peu élevé.
De plus, il existe peu d’alternatives, celles-ci étant très peu connues par les agriculteurs mais aussi parce que les grandes industries ne les invitent pas à changer leurs habitudes. En effet, le glyphosate représente pour eux un très grand intérêt économique. Monsanto, par exemple, réalise 30% de son chiffre d’affaire avec cet herbicide, soit plus de 5 milliards de dollars.

 

Un comité d’appel, mais pourquoi ?

La licence permettant l’utilisation du glyphosate sur le sol européen ayant expiré le 15 décembre dernier, l’Union Européenne devait donner l’autorisation du renouvellement, ou non, de celle-ci.

Alors le 9 novembre 2017, afin de conseiller le Parlement Européen, une première réunion d’experts n’avait donné aucun résultat quant au renouvellement de l’autorisation du glyphosate dans l’UE.
Et pour cause, aucune décision n’avait été prise ce jour-là malgré une majorité favorable (14 pays sur 23). En effet, cette majorité se devrait d’être qualifiée, soit 16 pays en faveur de ce renouvellement.

Le comité d’appel, à la Commission Européenne de Bruxelles, avait donc pour but de trancher sur la question. Les 28 états membres de l’UE étaient représentés à un « niveau supérieur politique » par rapport au comité d’experts.
C’est donc avec une faible majorité que le 27 novembre, la licence a été renouvelée pour 5 ans, au lieu des 10 ans prévus initialement. En effet, plusieurs états membres avaient exprimé leur opposition à une autorisation d’une décennie.

Quelle est la position de la France sur le sujet ?

Nicolas Hulot, actuel ministre de la transition écologique et solidaire, est déterminé à sortir du glyphosate dans moins de 3 ans, mais il faudra trouver des alternatives afin d’éviter une concurrence déloyale des autres agriculteurs européens, qui pourraient utiliser l’herbicide légalement.
Par ailleurs, l’Hexagone a déjà interdit l’herbicide dans les espaces publics en 2017 et souhaite l’interdire chez les particuliers au 1er janvier 2019. Mais certains syndicats d’agriculteurs dénoncent l’action de l’Etat et affirment que le glyphosate est encore indispensable aujourd’hui, faute d’alternatives. C’est donc un combat de longue haleine qui attend la France et l’Union Européenne sur ce sujet très controversé.

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