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Farmers drive tractors through Paris in protest at pesticide bans

French farmers drove hundreds of tractors into Paris on Wednesday to protest against pesticide restrictions and other environmental regulations they say are threatening farm production in the European Union's largest agricultural power.

The action follows an EU court ruling last month that overturned a French policy allowing sugar beet growers to use an insecticide banned by the EU, raising concern of a further decline in beet plantings and of sugar factory closures.


The sugar beet decision has sharpened discontent among farmers over what they see as excessive pesticide curbs that go against government calls to boost food security in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine.


"Our means of production keep being undermined by prohibitions without solutions," Jerome Despey, secretary general of the FNSEA, France's main farming union, told Reuters.


"Enough is enough."


The FNSEA and other groups organising the protest were expecting 500 tractors and 2,000 farmers from the Paris region to participate.


A long procession of tractors, bearing banners saying "Macron is liquidating agriculture" - in reference to French President Emmanuel Macron - or "Save your farmer", rolled through central Paris to join a gathering at the Invalides monument, near France's agriculture ministry.


Environmental activists say pesticide residues damage soils and wildlife and they have welcomed the EU ruling against the use of sugar beet seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides that can harm bees.


"Biodiversity, indispensable for life on earth and farming, must not be sacrificed," anti-pesticide group Generations Futures said in a statement supporting the neonicotinoid ban.


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