Jose Bove, the European Parliament member famous for trampling GM crops, says France's court system would be guilty of 'environmental schizophrenia' if it upholds its conviction of a biodynamic winemaker for not spraying his vines against disease.

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At the centre of the debate: Emmanuel Giboulot’s vineyard

The appeals court in Dijon today (5 November) postponed a decision on Emmanuel Giboulot‘s appeal against his conviction until 4 December, to provide more time to consider the evidence.

In April this year, Giboulot was fined €1,000 euros, of which €500 was suspended.

He was convicted for refusing to use a mandatory treatment on his Burgundy vines as a precautionary measure against flavescence doree disease, which some have compared to the deadly phylloxera bug that devastated vineyards in 19th Century Europe.

The judgement has sparked debate in the French media about whether Giboulot was right.

‘The system is on its head,’ said Bove, who achieved notoriety in France in 1999 after he and fellow protesters dismantled an entire McDonald’s restaurant.

Bove, who also spearheaded a campaign against GM crops, is now an MEP and part of the European Green Party.

‘France has committed to cut its use of pesticides by 50% by 2018 and this type of systematic policy to use chemicals against a vine illness contradicts this goal. It would be good to stop a little bit with this environmental schizophrenia,’ said Bove, ahead of today’s hearing.

There is no known cure for flavescence doree and some scientists have argued that preventative spraying is one of the only ways to stop the disease spreading, until research can find new coping strategies.

There are several research projects underway at French national research agency INRA. In Burgundy, the BIVB wine trade body is also part of consortium that last month secured €1.7m in funding to look at natural ways to prevent and treat diseases.

Written by Chris Mercer