Reducing the Use of Pesticides in Europe. Birth (and death?) of a Transition Policy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alix LEVAIN, INRA, France
In 2009, the “pesticides package”, an ensemble of four new European regulatory texts, is published. One of these texts is a directive that aims at enforcing a sustainable use of chemical pesticides, in a context of high dependency of most European agricultural activities to that technology. To achieve this objective, the directive compels Member-states to adopt national action plans that would engage a substantial reduction of this dependency. In comparison to the preexisting European regulatory regime, this directive represents a switch in the framing of the problem of pesticides. Under the previous regime, pesticide products had to be authorized before they could be sold on nationals markets. Then, they were evaluated separately in a risks/benefits approach. On the contrary, the new directive sets up a global objective of reduction for pesticides as a whole. Consequently, that text seems to initiate, beyond a more stringent regulatory regime, the intentional management of a socio-technological detachment process: the detachment of agriculture from pesticides.

First, following the literature on sociotechnical transition that invites to an historical approach, this contribution will revisit the emergence of this new regulation: how did such a policy of deliberate reduction of pesticides use emerge in the European Union? We will then discuss the mid-term sociotechnical transformations that this new policy embodies and the conception of change it entails. Second, building on comparative analysis between Member-States, we will question the impacts of this new objective on national systems of regulation.