Bordeaux cancer rates raise pesticide fears

The use of pesticides on vineyards “cannot be excluded” as a reason for the high rates of child cancer in Sauternes, health authorities have said.

A sign warning that pesticides have been used in a vineyard (Photo: Wiki)

A sign warning that pesticides have been used in a vineyard     (Photo: Wiki)

The sweet wine producing appellation has been rocked by a study from local health agency ASR, which claims that the rate of childhood cancer in Preignac, the area’s central village, is five times the national average in France.

The report’s authors said they cannot rule out the possibility that pesticide use on vineyards in the area is linked to the cases of childhood cancer.

Preignac has a population of 2,200, and has seen nine cases of childhood cancer in 14 years.

Jean-Pierre Manceau, Preignac’s former mayor and a researcher at the CNRS national science centre, has called for an even more thorough investigation as the latest report backs up a 2013 investigation by medical research institute Inserm. This report said that pesticides “pose a particularly high risk for a child’s development”, drawing links to childhood leukaemia.

The most recent study by local health authority ASR and national agency InSV was published on 5 August, but has only now been picked up by the media, with Le Parisien being made aware of its findings by a member of the public.

Mr Maceau fears that some locals are ignoring the risks of using pesticides as Sauterne’s wines are integral to the area’s economy.

He is quoted in The Telegraph saying: “There is a law of silence because Sauternes is the lifeblood of the village… If tomorrow we get rid of treatment with pesticides, the local economy of Sauternes wine will collapse.”

Jean-Gilbert Bapsalle, Preignac’s current mayor, has urged caution over drawing a definite a conclusive link between pesticides and cancer. “One cannot say there is a problem,” he said. “We need to remain vigilant about possible problems for the whole region, not necessarily in Preignac. Sauternes is very important for the region and a bunch of grapes costs very dear.”

4 Responses to “Bordeaux cancer rates raise pesticide fears”

  1. Peter Hall says:

    Can growers in the UK be told which chemicals are being questioned in Sauternes.

    Thank you, Peter Hall

  2. lisa says:

    I would add, the cost of one child’s life is also very dear. There are many sustainable/organic preparations and vineyard treatments available in substitution for petrochemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

  3. davetharave says:

    Their law of silence is very disturbing

  4. Note to Lisa: two of the three main organic pesticides are crude oil based: Stylett Oil is 97.1% petrochemical, it kills beneficial insects and is essentially drenching the vines in crude oil, it’s shockingly damaging to the environment. The next most frequently used organic pesticide is sulfur with various chemical additives and can be terrible for air quality when sprayed by causing PC-10 -particles of 10 microns damaging to lungs. Lastly, the organic pesticide consisting of the heavy metal copper which damages the flora and fauna of the soil, and virtually stays in the soil forever, it’s the most poisonous pesticide, both organic or synthetic used in vineyards. The belief that organic does not use pesticides or chemicals is a meme the organic industry has created that is misinformation. Non organic pesticides are the best choice if you care about the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

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