France to ban widely used crop fungicide over health concerns

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PARIS (Reuters) - France’s health and safety regulator has decided to ban a widely used crop fungicide after classifying it as a so-called endocrine disruptor posing risks for humans and the environment.

The ANSES agency said on Tuesday it was withdrawing the marketing license for 76 products containing epoxiconazole, which is commonly applied to protect cereal and sugar beet fields in France, the European Union’s biggest crop producer.

“The agency’s conclusion is that epoxiconazole is an endocrine disruptor for humans and non-target organisms, and represents a preoccupying level of danger for humans and the environment,” it said in a statement.

ANSES decided to review the chemical following new EU regulations concerning endocrine disruptors, which are suspected of affecting humans’ hormone systems and causing diseases including cancer, it said.

A spokeswoman for the regulator said that around half of French cereals and 70% of sugar beet crops were treated with epoxiconazole-based products.

There would be a transition period of around one year to allow stocks of the fungicide to be used up, after which farmers could use alternative products that exist on the market, she said.

ANSES did not detail the products to be withdrawn from the market.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz. Editing by Jane Merriman