French organic winemaker hero of the Day
To fight the creeping ‘flavescence doree’ disease in Burgundy’s Beaune region, the local government ordered vineyard owners in Cote d’Or to use pesticides. But one winemaker defied this order, saying that it was ‘intolerable.’
Organic winemaker Emmanuel Giboulot was slapped with a €500 fine on Monday after defying the order. Giboulot owns a 10-hectare estate known for producing genuinely organic wine. According to the winemaker, the pesticide was merely a ‘blanket solution’ and likened the order to recommending chemotherapy as a solution to cancer.
Giboulot added that using pesticide on his vineyard would destroy decades of work on organic wine. Using pesticide will also lead to a decline in crop yields, and disrupt the natural system of reproduction of the plants.
Emmanuel Giboulot after Monday’s hearing
The winemaker’s defiance has been praised as a ‘cause célèbre’ by many leading environmental groups like Greenpeace and the French Green Party. Its Facebook campaign has at least 100,000 supporters.
The government argued that using pesticides would save the affected regions from a catastrophe. Pesticide-free vineyards like Giboulot’s would also put adjacent vineyards at risk. However, environmentalists said that a better solution to the disease spread by leaf-hopping insects is to monitor the disease progression, uproot infected vines and limit the mandatory use of pesticides.
A branch of the Agriculture Ministry sued Giboulot, who said he will appeal the fine.