Blame Beef (and GM) for Bee Slaughter

French meat and pork producers have taken umbrage at a set of shock posters plastered in some Paris metro stations blaming them for a range of eco-disasters from bee colony collapse to a swim-stopping poisonous green algae covering Brittany beaches.

Beef producers+GMO+Pesticides = toxic danger for bees say environmentalists.

According to the environmental pressure group France Nature Environnement (FNE), French agriculture and agri-business is, by a wide margin, Europe’s biggest pesticide user. This massive and dangerous overuse of chemicals, claims FNE, contributes (among other catastrophes) to the decline in bees and other pollinators.

FNE president Bruno Genty said the latest campaign, which went ahead only after a court battle, was deliberately designed to shock.

A series of six colourful and hard-hitting posters (shown here), were plastered on the walls of the Odeon, Saint-Lazare, and Montparnasse metro stations days before the prestigious annual Salon of Agriculture, (February 15 to 21) held in Paris and opened by President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The campaign got an unexpected media boost according to a Le Figaro report, after pig and cattle farmers lost a court bid for an injunction against the campaign they insisted was “one-sided and misleading”.

While not denying the current disposal of waste from intensively farmed pigs is polluting water courses and streams and ending up feeding noxious green algae growth on Brittany beaches with an impact on swimming and tourism, the farmers call the posters “a campaign against agriculture”.

They were backed by Agriculture minister, Bruno Le Maire, who described the campaign as a “scandale” and a “provocation”

The swine farmers association INAPORC, which in submissions to the court called for a ban on the use of the poster depicting the green algae damage, says: “There are other ways of having a dialogue rather than this continual hype”.

One algae poster shows a child playing on a beach covered with green algae which as it decomposes gives off a lethal gas. The title of the poster is an ironic “Happy holidays”.

The second poster shows a coastline covered with green algae with the following message: “That’s enough of your ‘salads’ “.

Breton authorities are highly displeased with this "attack" on their image.

This latter poster has provoked a secondary storm.

According to Nouvel Observateur the Brittany Regional Council said it would sue FNE for “damaging its image.” The socialist president of the region, Jean-Yves Le Drian told the paper: “The Brittany Regional Council is to take its case to the high court and sue FNE for damages to its image” . M Le Drian added that FNE was depicting France’s “leading agricultural region as a source of pollution and endangerment to others”.

At the same time the Brittany Regional Tourism Committee lodged a formal complaint about the poster with the Advertising Standards Authority.

Nevertheless, Nouvel Observateur reminded its readers, Brittany was the region most severely affected by the green algae. “In 2009, a man and a horse were found dead on the coast after transporting several loads of decaying algae in a truck.” The algae problem has been causing beach pollution for more than 40 years.

Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet sprang to the defence of FNE saying it had the right to freedom of expression …” a founding principle of the Grenelle de l’Environnement“.

For FNE , manure from too many pork farms in the region triggers a proliferation of algae. The federation wants a freeze on livestock production and better control on pesticide spraying.

For their part livestock and meat producers were highly indignant to find themselves blatantly labelled “liars” by a poster showing slices of beef stamped “100% natural” below the slogan “Big Liar”.

FNE claims the meat is mislabelled because it is produced from animals fed with genetically modified grain — GMs. Even the producers seemed ambivalent on that one. Marc Pagès, a spokesman for the cattle industry, admitted his members were “rather favourably inclined to improved labelling.”

FNE has set up an online petition against the continued use of the most dangerous pesticides and demanded the full implementation of the Ecophyto 2018 plan.

This is part of the government’s overall environmental programmme, the Grenelle de l’environnement which aims to reduce pesticide use by 50% and if possible within a decade, (it started in 2007). It also aims to phase out the sale of certain pesticides containing the 53 most worrying active substances.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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5 Responses to Blame Beef (and GM) for Bee Slaughter

  1. Pingback: A Sarkozy Mix: Greens, Farmers and Muslims « French News Online Newsroom

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  4. yonason March 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    “Environmentalists” are the last people in the world to be accusing others of lying. Seriously, I don’t believe any radical environmentalist, for good reason, which is a shame because there really are problems that need to be solved. Unfortunately, most are made worse by them, not better.

  5. Pingback: Your Garden Is Now The Frontline In The Battle To Save Pollinators | FrenchNewsOnline

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