French wine industry sets up €2m lobby to stop 'vilification' of wine

  • Thursday 19 November 2009

A new pro-wine lobby with a budget of some €2m has been created to counter the effects of the French government’s ‘vilifying’ of wine.

The move against the ‘prohibitionist agenda ravaging France’ was announced at the Hospices de Beaune last Sunday.

Starting next year, appellations including Bordeaux and Champagne will support and finance ‘serious, in-depth studies by doctors and scientists to show the beneficial effects of wine,’ said Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB) President Pierre-Henry Gagey.

Gagey said the initiative would expand the already existing French association Vin & Société, whose annual budget is €200,000 to €300,000, and which ‘needs to be bolstered to face new challenges’.

‘We are sick and tired of government vilifying wine,’ he added. ‘To tell people that one glass of wine causes cancer is shocking.’

He was referring to recent findings by the French National Cancer Institute (INCA), that consumption of only a small amount of wine can increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer by 168%.

‘The idea is not necessarily to finance new studies – many exist already – but we want to work with studies and avoid hasty and devastating conclusions like the last report from the cancer institute,’ BIVB director André Segala told decanter.com.

‘This report was later disputed by doctors and scientists and we need to assist in avoiding such misinformation,’ he said.

‘Our global objective is to stop a strong reduction in consumption [of wine] which follows in part by the “prohibitionist” agenda which has been ravaging France in the last few years and give wine its proper place in French society, of course with a message to drink in moderation,’ Segala added.

Decisions are being made today as to how the budget will be allocated, but it will finance ‘political lobbying’ as well as a ‘documentation centre’ on wine and moderate drinking.

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