Impacts of plant protection products on biodiversity: Complete file

2023-07-11 22:00:00

Each year, between 55,000 and 70,000 tonnes of active plant protection substances, including those usable in organic farming and those for biocontrol, are sold in mainland France and overseas and are used for crop protection or maintenance of gardens, green spaces and infrastructures (JEVI). However, in 2019, the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report prepared by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) drew up an alarming assessment of an unprecedented erosion of biodiversity: chemical pollution generated by human activities, including plant protection products (PPP), is identified among the main causes of this erosion and it adds to other pressures, such as the destruction of habitats caused by urbanization , the intensification of agricultural and forestry practices, the overexploitation of biological resources and the consequences of climate change.

Available data show that all environments (terrestrial, continental aquatic, marine, atmospheric) are contaminated by PPPs. The impregnation of the biota present in these environments confirms the reality of the exposure of the organisms. Contamination is also ubiquitous due to PPP transfer processes and the persistence of certain molecules and, although it tends to diminish with distance from application areas, it reaches very distant areas such as the deep ocean or subpolar regions. In addition, it generally results in the presence of mixtures of PPPs which include several molecules: active substances, some of which are currently prohibited but persistent in the environment, transformation products of these substances, co-formulants and adjuvants. However, the banning of the PPPs of greatest concern has led to a decrease over the last twenty years in the overall concentration levels of these substances (for example, organochlorine insecticides such as lindane, or photosynthesis-inhibiting herbicides such as than diuron or atrazine).

Agriculture is identified as the major source of introduction of PPPs into the environment, agricultural uses being preponderant compared to other uses (between 95 and 98%). This trend is also increasingly marked given the sharp reduction in the use of PPPs for the maintenance of JEVI for several years. Consequently, agricultural areas, including the waterways that cross them and the air masses that overhang them, are the most contaminated by these substances.

In this context and within the framework of the Ecophyto II+ plan, the ministries in charge of ecological transition, agriculture and research asked INRAE ​​and Ifremer to carry out a collective scientific expertise (ESCo) with the aim of making a inventory of scientific knowledge relating to the impacts of PPPs on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This ESCo addresses the fate and impacts of PPPs once these substances are introduced into the environment. The scope covers the different environments (terrestrial, continental aquatic, marine, atmospheric) in their continuity, from the place of application to the ocean, in metropolitan France and overseas, from knowledge produced in this context. French or transposable to it (climate, PPP used, biodiversity present, etc.). It includes all products intended for crop protection or JEVI maintenance, whether conventional PPPs or biocontrol products or agents, as soon as they are likely to be found in the environment. due to current or past use. The analytical framework put in place considers biodiversity in its structural and functional dimensions, and it integrates the issue of ecosystem services. Attention is thus more particularly focused on work that documents the identification of risks and effects in realistic environmental conditions, and at levels of biological organization (individual, population, community, ecosystem) that can facilitate the link to be established with biodiversity as well as with ecosystem functions and services. On the other hand, this ESCo does not deal with agricultural practices or systems that make it possible to reduce the use of PPPs, nor with preventive strategies for regulating pests.

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Thus, the objective of this article is to present some of the results obtained within the ESCo relating to the impacts of PPPs on biodiversity and ecosystem services, by addressing the following five points: (1) existing methods and prospects to measure and assess the impacts of PPPs on biodiversity, (2) types of impacts observed, (3) main organisms impacted, (4) impacts on ecosystem functions and services, (5) levers for action to reduce the dispersion of PPPs in the environment and their impacts.

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