Science

A study was launched on the exposure of local residents to pesticides, but it was contested in the Bordeaux region – Sciences et Avenir

This Tuesday an unprecedented scale study was launched aimed at establishing an “objective photograph” of the risks of exposure to pesticides of the neighbors of the vineyards, but the interprofessional of the Bordeaux wines refuses to join it, fearing ” hasty conclusions “.

With “PestiRiv”, the National Agency for Health Security (ANSES) and Public Health France (SpF) will follow until August some 3,350 volunteer participants from 3 to 79 years old, spread over 250 study areas spread over six regions.

They reside in viticultural areas (less than 500 meters of vine and more than 1,000 meters of other crops) or more than 1,000 meters of any culture, in order to facilitate comparisons, and in particular they will be biologically monitored (urine or hair samples, etc.) and environmental (ambient air sensors, water or vegetable samples from the garden, etc.).

For Jean-Luc Volatier, from the ANSES risk assessment department, viticulture is particularly concerned because it consists of “perennial crops with relatively high treatment frequencies and a strong intertwining between habitat and vines.”

“About fifty substances will be measured,” said Atmo France, which participates in the surveys. “This is the first study that will make it possible to compare the real level of exposure of the population (…) to all possible sources of exposure: air, food, water, professional activity including agricultural and domestic uses.”

The results of the analyzes of several million samples are expected in 2024 and should make it possible to “objectify if there is overexposure” of local residents and “understand why and how, in order to give all the levers to act”, stressed Ohri Yamada , head of phytopharmacovigilance of ANSES.

The environmental association Future Generations, which published in March a ranking of the most greedy departments in pesticides, with two wine departments at the top (Gironde and Marne), “welcomed” the launch of PestiRiv on Tuesday but regretted the “lost time”.

By emphasizing its “scientific rigor”, the organizers of the study wish to protect themselves from criticism on a very sensitive subject that has already caused tests, including physical stresses, in certain regions.

“Major bias”

PestiRiv is grinding particularly in the Bordeaux region. The interprofession said, in a letter from its president to the prefect, dated October 1, revealed by Le Monde and of which AFP was aware, that “it will not support this process, neither with vineyard companies in the Gironde, nor with the mayors “. of the affected municipalities “, unless Public Health France and ANSES reassure it on several points.

The Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wines (CIVB) regrets, among other things, the “lack of transparency” about the comments of an experimental phase carried out in 2019 in New Aquitaine, as well as “the disparity in the location of the samples, with more than half of the study that would take place in Gironde. ” He sees “this approach to the Bordeaux vineyard” as “a major bias in the protocol” and “does not want Bordeaux to once again be the shield behind which other French vineyards can take refuge.”

The CIVB is also not “convinced” that SpF and ANSES, “once the analysis and dissemination work is done, make the educational and contradictory effort necessary to avoid hasty conclusions and ignore all scientific rigor.”

A position that Béatrice de François, the PS mayor of Parempuyre (Gironde), at the gates of the Médoc, does not understand. “It is a shame that they (the CIVB) are intervening in this way, they would have every interest in supporting this study and the change in practices,” this mayor, who had issued a decree in 2019 banning phytopharmaceuticals “within 100 m of any home or public space ”, annulled by administrative justice.

According to Ms De François, who recalls that pesticides not only concern viticulture but agriculture in general, “a really neutral scientific study” like PestiRiv, “over a somewhat long period, in children and adults”, will be ” interesting”.

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