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Biodynamic winemaker prosecuted for not treating vines with insecticide

Emmanuel Giboulot, a biodynamic winemaker in Beaune, has been threatened with a €30,000 fine and six months in prison for not treating his vines against the flavesence dorée disease.

Giboulot is being prosecuted by the DRAAF-SRAL (an arm of the Agricultural Ministry that has enforcing powers) for not following the Cote d’Or-wide directive to systematically treat vines against the leaf hopping insect known as scaphoideus titanus.

The insect is thought to be behind the infectious disease flavesence dorée that has affected vineyards across France, and has been present in Burgundy since 2011.

Giboulot was served with a notification to appear before the Dijon Tribunal on November 10, for ‘failure to apply an insecticide treatment to his vineyard between July 5-10 2013, and for an unspecified time since, to prevent the installation of flavesence dorée vine disease’. The court papers make reference to Article 251-20 of the Rural Code.

Giboulot was unable to attend, and is awaiting a new date.

‘My father began converting to organic farming in the 1970s, and we are now fully organic and biodynamic,’ Giboulot told decanter.com. ‘I don’t want to undo decades of work applying a treatment where the effects on the health of the vines, and the public, are as yet unproved.’

Jean-Michel Aubinal, president of the regional appellations body, drew attention to the urgency of the flavesence dorée problem. ‘The disease is still affecting Burgundy. We are currently creating a picture of the exact health of the vines, pulling up vines where to we need.

‘In 2012, we pulled up 12 hectares in the Maconnais, which is not huge amount, but you have to be very reactive in the fight against this disease, and not let it spread’.

‘I am not irresponsible,’ said Giboulot, ‘and I am not trying to be radical. I simply do not believe that systematic treatment – even without any symptoms of the disease – is the solution. I want to show people that there are options, and that we need to think about our own health and that of our customers.’

Written by Jane Anson

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