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FRANCE: Civil society’s open letter calls to end a police cell’s activities against environmental defenders, as missions are ruled illegal by court

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By POLLINIS, translated by ECF on 31 March 2022

Dear Sir/Madam,

The government took an unprecedented decision for the exclusive benefit of the agribusiness. It appealed the court decision ordering the end of the illegal activities of the Déméter gendarmerie cell (1).

Thus, nowadays in France, public authorities are validating a police of thoughts that can monitor, intimidate and muzzle its own citizens – outside of any legal framework and in order to defend the highly questionable interests of a few large firms!

>> Firms whose products indiscriminately destroy millions of pollinating insects essential to plant reproduction (2), and billions of micro-organisms that ensure soil fertility (3)…

>> And whose products spread Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, serious cancers, and cognitive and anxiety disorders among the farmers who use them (4).

How have our politicians come to make such a mockery of the public interest and of all principles on which our democracies were founded?

This is unacceptable.

And POLLINIS will oppose theses authoritarian decisions with all its forces.

We will take the case to court – all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary! – to defend the freedom of citizens and their inalienable right to defend their environment.

But for this, we need you.

We need to show the judiciary and politicians that we are supported by a genuine grassroots movement, in whose name we are fighting for the respect of freedom and rights for all.

This is why POLLINIS is sounding the alarm today, to bring together all citizens who are outraged by such a misuse of law enforcement for the sole benefit of industry:

>> To oppose any anti-democratic drift;

>> Because if we do not act quickly, agribusiness will have a free hand to muzzle its opponents with the repressive means of the State…

… and decimate, for example, for many years to come, bees, bumblebees and butterflies, by contaminating the environment with its poisons with impunity!

Join the mobilization to get the Demeter cell dissolved, and join the 60,000 citizens who have already chosen to block the industry:

► I SIGN

As a reminder: after a long legal battle between associations for the defence of biodiversity and the government to put an end to the repression of environmental defenders by the Déméter cell…

the Paris Administrative Court ruled on 1 February 2022 that the ideological missions of this intelligence unit had no legal basis (5), and consequently ordered the government to put an end to it within two months, subject to a fine of 10,000 euros per day of delay.

After taking note of this court decision (6), the government decided to appeal and to force its way in to defend, whatever the cost, the illegal ideological intimidation and surveillance missions that Demeter employs to stifle agribusiness protest – at great public expense!

The Ministers Interior, Agriculture and Justice (7) are now united in defending the pesticide industry and the entire agricultural model that depends on it.

In the face of them, and the illegal pact that binds them to the agro industry, we must rally hundreds of thousands of citizens to help us stand our ground and guarantee everyone’s rights to defend pollinators and the environment!

At this very moment, the associations POLLINIS and Générations Futures are preparing to fight back in the courts, alongside environmental lawyer Corinne Lepage.

But in this decisive confrontation to restore freedom of expression, and to allow all environmental defenders to lead the fight against the ravages of pesticides, we need you to multiply our forces by 2, 5, or even 10, and to counter all together the government’s dirty tricks!

Help us put an immediate stop to the Demeter police cell, which defends an agricultural model that destroys pollinators and is catastrophic for human health:

► I SIGN THE PETITION

By defending Déméter against a democratic court decision, the government shows its unwavering support for Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and Corteva, the 4 multinationals that control the pesticide market (8)…

… at the cost of an unprecedented attack on democracy and freedom of expression, protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (9).

This hijacking of law enforcement by agribusiness interests must not last a second longer!

For more than two years now, the Déméter cell has been exerting pressure on citizens committed to the agricultural transition and the abandonment of pesticides, which is unimaginable in a democracy:

>> Mr. Henri Plandé, has been put under surveillance for the sole purpose of his function as president of the local association Alerte Pesticides Haute Gironde, and has even received a visit from gendarmes in arms and bulletproof vests at his home.

>> Mr. Antoine Gatet, spokesman of the association Sources et rivières du Limousin, was investigated by the gendarmerie for trespassing on agricultural property, after he opposed an agro-industrial project on the local radio station France 3.

>> Mrs. Bettina Kaps, a journalist, was ordered by gendarmes to delete an interview with a farmer, a totally illegal and abusive practice!

All these concrete cases are part of an obvious strategy to criminalise citizens and associations that defend biodiversity and the environment, and whose actions against the agrochemical lobbies are now likely to be treated as criminal associations, an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment and 150,000 euros in fines!

For this is the true nature of Demeter… a repressive and dissuasive force, opposed to associations which, like POLLINIS, try to decontaminate the environment from pesticides and thus allow the return of pollinators…

… and to all citizens’ voices denouncing the irrationality of the industrial agricultural model, whose unbridled intensification is destroying at a dizzying speed everything that industry cannot seize and profit from (10).

If we do not win this crucial battle for democratic freedoms and allow industry to take advantage of the complacency of the State to definitively stifle criticism of intensive agriculture, it will no longer be possible to openly aspire to a healthy, pesticide-free environment without provoking the wrath of Demeter.

In order to stop this unbearable drift as soon as possible, which reinforces more than ever the impunity of the companies and the pesticide system – whose costs for European citizens already reach 2.3 billion euros each year! (11) – there is no time to lose.

Join the fight now by signing our open letter to the government and demand, together with thousands of determined citizens, the immediate dismissal of Demeter and the guarantee of the inalienable right of citizens to protect the environment and biodiversity.

Together, let’s prevent the government and agrochemicals from forcing their way through!

► I JOIN THE FIGHT

In the era of Demeter and the all-out repression of environmentalists under the guise of fighting “agribashing”, will POLLINIS still be able to publicly expose the figures that come to us from recent scientific studies, and which take the measure of:

>> The level of poisoning of living organisms by neonicotinoids, insecticides whose neurotoxic effects could seriously damage our brains according to the European Health Agency (12), and which were recently detected in the cerebrospinal fluid – a biological fluid vital to the development of the brain and cognitive functions – of hospitalized children (13);

>> The level of toxicity of agricultural land, more than a third of which is considered “high risk” worldwide (14) because its pesticide concentration is at least 1,000 times higher than the threshold considered to have no effect on biodiversity;

>> The critical level of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to French and American researchers, is dangerously underestimated: in a recent study, scientists calculated that the extinction of animal species was 170 to 300 times higher than previous estimates published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which neglected the populations of invertebrates (95% of known species!) (15).

To save our freedom to challenge this unsustainable and devastating agricultural system, we must at all costs prevent the government from legalizing the censorship of thousands of associations and citizens who defend nature.

Let’s not allow a privatised opinion police to be installed by the lobbies!

Please sign our appeal now to oppose a salutary barrier to the historic war waged by the agrochemical firms against freedom of expression!

► I SUPPORT THE FIGHT

Thank you in advance for your decisive action.