The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale - Inserm), a public scientific and technological institute, recently published a report highlighting the potential adverse effects of pesticides on human health, and making certain recommendations.

Produced at the request of the Directorate General for Health, the report indicates that there is a "positive link" between occupational pesticide exposure and the development of certain illnesses. The report highlights that the positive link becomes "a strong presumption" for illnesses such as Parkinson's, certain haematopoietic cancers such as Non-Hodgkin's Malignant Lymphoma, prostate cancer, and other various cognitive disorders. Adverse consequences on fertility, but also pregnancy and child development are also mentioned.

In a communication dated 13 June 2013, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire, Alimentation, Environnement, Travail – ANSES) approved the recommendations made by Inserm, in particular in relation to better documenting current exposure levels of agricultural workers. ANSES further noted that the findings of this report support the European measures taken in the past 15 years with regards to the withdrawal from the European market of substances suspected of having adverse effects on health.

This publication occurs in a context where pesticide use has reached relatively high proportions in France. Indeed, over 300 pesticides are currently known to be on the market. Given that the widest use of pesticides is in agriculture, it remains the case that pesticides are abundantly present in the general environment, including water, air, and food products.