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Complaint filed against Bordeaux vineyard in school pesticide case

Pesticide spraying in a Bordeaux vineyard that is believed to have made several school children sick may lead to criminal prosecution after an environmental group filed an official complaint.

Bordeaux wine council CIVB has re-issued guidance on pesticide spraying following the incident

The Sepanso, a non-profit body based in the Gironde area, has formally requested the public prosecutor in Libourne to investigate the alleged misuse of anti-rot sprays at a vineyard in Villeneuve-de-Bayle.

On 5 May, 23 children fell ill at a junior school in the commune, and several were briefly hospitalised.

A report by health and agriculture agencies of the regional Aquitaine government found the children’s symptoms matched those of pesticide exposure.

The name of the vineyard has not been given.

It is thought pesticide residues were blown onto school grounds by the wind. Winemakers are not allowed to spray vines in urban areas when the wind is above a certain speed.

The school’s parents have met with local government official Jerome Burckel, as well as with the president of the Cotes de Bourg winemakers’ union, Jean Samuel Eynard. But, they have lodged no official complaint.

Neither the winemakers’ union nor the Libourne prosecutor’s office would comment on the case.

The Bordeaux Wine Bureau, the CIVB, last month redistributed guidelines on pesticide spraying in vineyards.

Francois Ruffie, lawyer for Sepanso, told Decanter.com, ‘Perhaps 80% of winemakers are very conscientious in their usage, but there is a minority who are not, and they should be prosecuted.’

Applying a vineyard treatment in inappropriate conditions in France is punishable by a maximum €150,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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