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Leaked document fuels French wine debate

The French government is considering proposals to reduce annual alcohol consumption in the country by 20% per head over the next 5 years, according to French newspaper Libération.

Libération quotes a leaked report produced by the MILDT (the Inter-Ministerial Mission for the Fight against Drugs and Drug Abuse), which predicts that wine consumption in France will decline by 50% over a five-year period.

Although the document is not yet official policy, it is likely to influence the government’s approach to certain health issues up to 2008.

The MILDT report, based on WHO (World Health Organisation) recommendations, includes guidlelines for the per-head consumption of alcohol, placed at three glasses of wine per day for men and two for women.

‘This is something to make winemakers jump with rage,’ said Libération.

‘There has been a leak. The document is in the hands of the Prime Minister,’ said a spokesperson from the MILDT, ‘but it has yet to be arbitrated by the government.’

Two weeks ago, the French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin met with the wine industry umbrella group ‘Vin et Société’ to discuss a way out of the crisis in French wine. Export volumes and domestic consumption have both fallen over the last year. The possibility of adding a clause to the Evin law of 1991, which strictly controls alcohol advertising in the media, was also raised in the talks.

Vanessa Verron, a spokeswoman for ‘Vin et Société was keen to point out that there is no conflict of interest between the MILDT’s proposals and the those of the umbrella group.

‘It must be remembered that we are not opposed to the public health programme. We want to work together with a concerted voice,’ she said.

Wine bodies in France are refusing to comment on the report as the leaked document has yet to be seen by them.

The French government will not debate or announce any changes in health policy or in the Evin law until after the regional elections have taken place at the end of March.

Written by Oliver Styles

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