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Visiting France

French court fines organic winemaker for not using pesticides

media A Burgundy vineyard DR

A French court on Monday fined a Burgundy winemaker 500 euros because he refused to use pesticides in his organic vineyard.

Emmanuel Giboulet defied government instructions to use pesticide to prevent a vine disease caused by a leaf-hopping insect, which might then spread to other vineyards.

Environmentalists championed Giboulet’s case, in which he theoretically risked six months in prison and a fine of up to 30,000 euros.

In the end, prosecutors recommended a lesser fine and Giboulot was told to pay 1,000 euros, half of which was suspended.

"I do not feel guilty in any way. It's intolerable that one has to hide and be scared whenever one takes up a certain position," Giboulot said after the ruling in Dijon, in the wine-making Burgundy region.

Giboulot was taken to court by the Ministry of Agriculture, for not heeding a local directive in Burgundy's Cote d'Or area, to regularly treat vines against the "flavescence dorée" disease.

Giboulot said he was not opposed to treating vines which were at risk of the disease but he compared the directive to ordering chemotherapy to prevent cancer.

Flavescence dorée first appeared in 1949 in France's southwestern Armagnac region.

It then spread steadily to areas including Cognac, Languedoc, northern and southern Rhone, the Loire Valley and Bordeaux.

There is no cure for the bacterial infection, which can kill young vines and reduce the yield of older ones.

After the discovery of the disease in Burgundy's Beaune region, local authorities last June ordered all vineyard owners in the Cote d'Or area to treat their vineyards with pesticides.



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