France plans easing pesticide ban for sugar beet to curb crop losses

PARIS, Aug 6 (Reuters) - The French government will propose lifting a ban on certain pesticides blamed for harming bees in order to protect sugar beet crops that have been ravaged by insects this year, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

The government plans to support a legislative amendment in parliament this autumn to exempt sugar beet for up to three years from a general ban on seeds treated with insecticide, the ministry said in a statement following a meeting with sugar industry representatives.

Sugar beet growers blame a ban on neonicotinoid chemicals for insect attacks that could decimate yields this year, warning this could threaten the French sugar sector after a price slump in recent years already led to factory closures.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Dominique Vidalon, writing by Gus Trompiz; editing by David Evans)

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