On 12 May, Safer Phosphates was delighted to host a webinar in French which brought together specialists from diverse backgrounds to discuss ways to support the agricultural sector in France in reducing levels of heavy metals, and particularly cadmium, in the environment and in the food chain.

A recording of the entire discussion is available via the following link.

A short video summary of the event is available above.

The discussion panel, followed by a short Q&A session, was targeted at the French public.

France is gearing up to the realities of the New EU Fertilisers Products Regulation 2019/1009 which establishes the rules for making fertilizers available on the market. The discussion explored possible ways and tools to further encourage sustainable agricultural practices, including the use of fertilizers with low levels of heavy metals, to ensure consumer protection. 

Pascal Michaux, Secretary General of Safer Phosphates, said: "In these difficult times, human health and environmental protection are at the heart of citizens' concerns. When choices are available to improve agricultural practices, with no additional costs, while phosphate fertilizers are already benefitting from a low-cadmium ‘green label’, Member States must act to promote the usage of clean fertilizers and help farmers in the transition towards cleaner agriculture".

Julien Dive, Member of Parliament for Aisne and Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly's Economic Affairs Committee, said, "We must not incriminate farmers, who are at the heart of the responses to climate and public health issues, but support them in changing their practices. In this case, there are alternatives and solutions to reduce cadmium levels in fertilizers. It is therefore possible to offer a clear trajectory and transcribe it into French law".

Alfred Bernard, Professor Emeritus at UCLouvain and Research Director of the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), in his intervention has compared scientific studies on the subject, and concluded that:  "Cadmium is a very cumulative heavy metal, it’s release into the environment must be controlled.  We have to be very careful with phosphates".

Bérénice Dupeux, Agricultural Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said, "Phosphate fertilizers are only part of the cadmium problem, which comes from several sources. It is therefore necessary to think about a more global and effective long-term solution that involves the transition to an agricultural model using less fertilizers".

Ludovic Flandin, Director of Development and CSR Commitments at Truffaut/Groupe Louis Delhaize, said: "We need to rethink the place of the farmer in relation to food retail players; he is no longer just a supplier, consumers are now interested in what happens on the farm, in terms of biodiversity and respect for the environment". 

Jean-Sébastien David, Chief Operating Officer at Arianne Phosphate Inc, joined the discussion reporting that "in North America, awareness on the subject of cadmium has been very slow but is starting to rise; the decisions made on this subject in Europe are being observed".