Activists protest against Bordeaux pesticide use

16th February, 2016 by Darren Smith

Around 600 activists have taken to the streets in Bordeaux to protest against the use of pesticides by the region’s winegrowers.

Protestors in Bordeaux claim the spraying of pesticides on vines has become a serious danger to public health

Activists could be seen wearing sanitation masks and suits, and holding placards with messages such as ‘Protect our children’ during the protest in Bordeaux on Sunday.

The protest comes after a television documentary, broadcast in France on February 2, which warned about the impact of pesticides on human health and the environment, and which focused specifically on the high level of pesticide use in Bordeaux vineyards, Le Monde reported.

Wine is by far the most important industry in the Gironde, representing nearly 80% of all agricultural activity and contributing around €4 billion in revenue to the economy annually.

However environmentalists have become increasingly vociferous in their protests against the Bordeaux wine industry. As reported in the drinks business, the use of chemical sprays was blamed when 23 primary school children and their teacher were taken ill in the village of Villeneuve, near Bourg-sur-Gironde, in May 2014.

Protestors have cited the ineffectiveness of pesticides in fighting vine diseases as a primary reason for curbing their use.

In 2015 a report on the strength of the vine diseases, co-signed by several organisations including the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the French Chambers of Agriculture, concluded that several commonly used chemicals had lost any effectiveness in the fight against such common vine diseases as powdery mildew and botrytis.

The president of the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, Bernard Farges, sought to defend Bordeaux winegrowers’ use of pesticides, insisting that they were operating according to agreed standards and regulations.

“We use registered products,” Farges told Le Monde.

“We know that there is a social responsibility and we inform our winemakers about other ways of working, but if it’s for anyone to change the rules, it is for the state to do.”

In September last year the drinks business reported how French health authorities had said that the use of pesticides on vineyards “could not be excluded” as a reason for the high rates of child cancer in Sauternes.

The region had been rocked by a study from local health agency ASR, which claimed that the rate of childhood cancer in Preignac, the area’s central village, was five times the national average in France.

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6 Responses to “Activists protest against Bordeaux pesticide use”

  1. simon thum says:

    another reason to drink more wines from Burgundy, Loire, Alsace, Jura, Rhone….
    we can do it without but thats also true for almost all other agricultural products

    • SSAmerican says:

      Simon thum
      Do you think Burgundy or the rest of France doesn’t use pesticides? You need to become more informed. The world uses pesticides, without them, you would have nothing to eat or drink.

  2. Craig says:

    I presume in a vast number of situations the vineyards were there first, so who thought it was a good idea to build a school next to an intensive Hort enterprise? For the remainder I presume the School was there first, so who thought it was a good idea to build an intensive Hort enterprise next to a school? Seems like a Culturally low attitude to Children to me and it’s best that this be scapegoated away as the fault of the farmer rather than ‘planners’ putting their hand up

  3. Most of the pesticides (99.5%) are made by the plants themselves. Plants protect themselves. Many produce neurotoxins and many produce multiple pesticides poisonous to humans, all depending on the dose, circumstances and exposure matter. Natural pesticides can be more or less dangerous than synthetic pesticides. We often season our foods with neurotoxins such as mint, oregano, cloves, basil etc. and think nothing of it. Plants generate pesticides in order to exist in a hostile world of fungi, bacteria, insects etc. We need to temper our instinctual outrage with a holistic perspective.

  4. Sal says:

    We have no problem with natural resistance of plants to fungus or viruses, as we have increased to obscene level our production and in some cases consumption of everything -just look at how fat people are becoming, or the increase in cancer incidence around the world- we converted small farms into giant factories. It is the synthetic chemicals that are much cheaper to produce in high volumes that are harming us. Of course over population is another reason people are building closer to farms, or the other way round causing further confrontations. It is a rat race trying to find a good wine bottle at a supermarket in between the hundreds of choices that are practically very close in production quality since most use the same techniques to manufacture. So I grow my own grapes and make my own wine.

  5. Deeppa says:

    Hi, does anyone know who lead the group of protesters ?

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