Pediatric cancers in Charente-Maritime: unprecedented mediation on use of pesticides

A hundred people participated on Monday in La Rochelle, in a first meeting to try to reconcile farmers and residents on the use of certain chemical herbicides, in an area marked by an accumulation of cancers affecting children.

by Frédéric Zabalza (La Rochelle, correspondent)

The exercise, unprecedented, was perilous, as the subject is sensitive in a territory marked for almost ten years by an accumulation of pediatric cancers and by concentrations never seen in France of certain chemical herbicides (Prosulfocarbe and Chlortoluron) which polluted the air and up to drinking water.

The La Rochelle agglomeration community organized, on Monday, January 30, the first mediation meeting between farmers and residents of this territory. The objective of this experiment was less to find “solutions” than to bring together “two visions that oppose”. “The problem is so unfathomable that the solutions will only come from Brussels, Strasbourg or Paris. But we want to do something at our small level,” explains Marc Maigné, doctor and community advisor responsible for health issues.

Mediation, entrusted to the company Rochelaise communication house and in Myriam Bacqué, co-author of the White Mediation Paper, comes after the order by the agglomeration community, at the end of 2022, of a distribution analysis of the number of cancers in its twenty-eight municipalities and the request for A national moratorium on the use of the prosculine.

skepticism of residents

Among the hundred participants gathered in La Rochelle were thirty-six farmers and as many residents, including half of volunteers, and another, inhabitants chosen at random on the electoral lists of the five municipalities concerned: Saint-Rogatien , Bourgneuf, Montroy, Claw and Périgny. Fearing a “com ‘” without a tomorrow, residents were more difficult to mobilize than farmers. At the start of the meeting, moreover, some of them were badly hiding a certain skepticism.

During the day, Benoît Biteau, European ecologist deputy and farmer in Charente -Maritime, had declined the invitation -due to appointments with the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau -, not without denouncing “the Opacity “which, according to him, surrounds” these closed -camera debates “. “The words are anonymous, but there will be a public report,” replied Myriam Bacqué.

The transcription of exchanges will be communicated in the coming days. Themes identified during the preparation of mediation, started in the summer of 2022, served as a beginning of the debates: cohabitation between residents and farmers, aid and support for agroecological transition, synthetic pesticides, costs agriculture, etc. Distributed by twelve tables, supervised by as many mediators, the participants have not eluded any subject. None left before the end and, in view of the overall satisfied reactions of the participants at the end of the meeting, the bet seems for the moment.

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/Media reports cited above.