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Walloon organizations focused on agriculture or the environment have developed a document on the use of pesticides for farmers and residents (the « Référentiel du vivre ensemble »). The objective is to promote « good practices » through consultation. But this document is rather reminiscent of the communication that sells us wars disguised as humanitarian interventions. It is an opportunity to reflect on reasoned intoxications and surgical bombardments, on sanitary poisons and liberating devastations.

The initiative’s supporters include several unions, the Eco-Conseil Institute, and PROTECT’eau. The practices promoted by this publication: avoid spills, use better equipment, respect a certain distance from dwellings, etc.

These approaches would be justified as transitional measures, in the context of a complete and very rapid exit from chemical-industrial agriculture. But nowhere in the document does it mention such an exit. On the contrary, it remains fully within the usual manipulative phraseology: pesticides are qualified as « phytosanitary » (as if they were promoting the health of anyone); the products of industrial agriculture, if it respects existing laws, are qualified as « healthy and safe » (p.3 of the referential); the treatment that agrochemicals give to nature (and, thus, to human health — notably that of farmers), this treatment is qualified as « reasoned » — when it is simply a question of avoiding some of the spraying (p.8), etc.


How can we still show such blindness? The ravages of pesticides are well known and well documented. As noted and proven by specialists and fully admitted by the most centrist media: 80% of insects have disappeared in 30 years (Le Monde, 28/10/17(2)); a third of the birds in the countryside have disappeared in 17 years (CNRS, 20/03/18(3)); the central role of pesticides, in these destructions, is obvious and recognized (see p. e.g., the meta-analysis of 73 studies, published in 2019 in the journal Biological Conservation(4)); the very serious effects of these products on human health are increasingly evident (see p. e.g. the UN report on the right to food of 24/01/2017(5)), etc.

Nowhere in the reference framework does it mention a move away from industrial agriculture.
It remains in the usual manipulative phraseology.

Let’s stop for a moment to consider the disappearance of insects. It is obvious that this is one of the greatest catastrophes in history. These animals are of fundamental importance for the ecosystems(6), and therefore for most of the agriculture(7) (pollination, avoidance of eutrophication of waters(8), survival of all other living species…). Our health and our lives are at stake, at the highest level. What else does it take for us to wake up? So that we can finally stop the massacre?

The processes of the standard in question would only contribute to the illusion that we are doing what is necessary to make industrial agriculture and agrochemistry sustainable (which is impossible). While the heart of the problem and the disaster would remain: the generalized poisoning of our living environment. Simply, its speed would be slowed down a bit.

In this field, resources, time and energy should be invested in something else: the work for a global return to peasant or agroecological agriculture, whose exceptional capacities and potentials have been proven on many occasions(9).


It is particularly sad and serious that an organization such as the Eco-Conseil Institute has joined in this manipulation. Used with discernment, the values and methods of this organization can make sense (consultation, « multi-stakeholder » process, taking into account everyone’s conceptions, etc.). But they can easily slip into bad compromises (I am sure, however, that some members of this institute must strongly deplore this slippage, among the trainers anyway).

The authors of this repository should consider, p. e.g., to the propaganda surrounding neo-colonial wars (Iraq, Vietnam, etc.). In the same way that we speak here of « reasoned » treatments, we speak there of « surgical strikes »; in the same way that we make believe that the use of pesticides would be compatible with the protection of water, with « healthy and safe » food, we sell there the gigantic lie of the « zero victims » war; in the same way that we speak here of health (« phytosanitary »), we speak there of liberation and democratization of the attacked countries. When in fact, it is only a question of selling agrochemical poisons, and there, of geostrategy and arms trade.

Perhaps the neo-colonial birds of prey will one day call on the Eco-Consultancy Institute? Their operations would be better understood if we talked about eco-responsible warfare, integrated bombing (not less than 100 meters from hospitals and schools…), etc. Multi-actor consultations could be organized, between the inhabitants of the target countries and the soldiers who attack them, mercenary subcontractors specialized in torture, NGOs…

Some ways to act in a different direction: sign and distribute the petition « We want poppies — Belgium(10)for an immediate ban on all synthetic pesticides; and to give yourself all the tools to refute the propaganda, read the very recent and concise « En finir avec les pesticides » (Do away with pesticides)(11)by Paul Lannoye and Maria Denil (see the review in these pages). To be recommended in particular to the authors of the Référentiel du  » vivre  » ensemble.

Daniel Zink, eco-advisor and member of Grappe asbl

Notes et références
  1. Merci à Paul Lannoye, qui a attiré mon attention sur le référentiel.
  2. « Insectes, l’hécatombe invisible »,, 2017.
  3. « Où sont passés les oiseaux des champs ? »,, 2018.
  4. « Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers »,, 2019. Voir aussi « Les pesticides, principale cause de la disparition des oiseaux en France »,, 2019.
  6. « La disparition des insectes, un phénomène dévastateur pour les écosystèmes »,
  7. « Les insectes sont indispensables à l’agriculture par leur rôle de pollinisateurs »,, 2019.
  8. « Et si on éradiquait tous les moustiques ? »,, 2016.
  9. Voir p. ex. Perez-Vittoria, S., Manifeste pour un XXe siècle paysan, Actes Sud, 2015, ou encore Le Naire, O., Dufumier, M., L’Agroécologie peut nous sauver, Actes Sud, 2019.
  11. Lannoye, P., Denil, M., En finir avec les pesticides, La boîte à Pandore, 2020.

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