Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 22:06:15 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mark Graffis <>
Subject: French Minister hits U.S. agribusiness at green meet
Article: 73815
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
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French Minister hits U.S. agribusiness at green meet

By Frederic Niel, Reuters News Service, 26 August 1999

LORIENT—French Farm Minister Jean Glavany attacked U.S. corporations yesterday, accusing them of trying to monopolise the world's food supply and jeopardising French agricultural independence.

“Agriculture is at a historic turning point, the change from issues of quantity to those of quality,” Glavany told a gathering of Green Party members in this western French port city.

“We have many adversaries as we embark on this revolution,” the Socialist minister said.

“First among them there are obviously the market liberals from across the Atlantic and their multinationals like Monsanto or DuPont, who have set themselves the challenge of feeding the world on their own.”

He was referring to U.S. corporations DuPont Co and Monsanto Co two of the world's largest seed manufacturers and leaders in the production of genetically modified grains.

They are trying “to flood the world with their products, genetically modified or not, and to spread their own agricultural and food model”, he added.

Glavany's attack comes amid a rising wave of public discontent over environment and trade issues that has sparked protests and handed Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin a new challenge in managing his sometimes fractious coalition.

At the same party conference, the Greens renewed their call for a referendum on nuclear power and threatened again to quit the government if a new generation of nuclear plants was authorised without debate.

Throughout the summer, farmers outraged at U.S.-imposed tariffs on goods such as foie gras and Roquefort cheese have staged protests, ransacking McDonald's restaurants and persuading local politicians to levy taxes on Coca-Cola .

The U.S. tariffs were imposed punitively after the World Trade Organisation ruled the European Union was illegally restricting the import of beef produced with hormones.

The protesters say they are fighting to protect France's love of good food and traditional production methods against the encroachment of multinational corporations they accuse of exerting growing control over the food supply.

While the protesters are not necessarily Green Party members, their actions lend weight to a central argument of the party that it deserves more power in government because its core issues are of growing concern to French people.

“Without the Greens, the classic left may have a majority in the National Assembly, but it does not have a majority in society,” Green party leader and Environment Minister Dominique Voynet told the party gathering on Tuesday.

While the Greens' threat over nuclear power is not new and Jospin's government would not fall without them, the party's strong showing in June's European Parliament elections is forcing the Socialists to take note ahead of municipal polls in 2001 and legislative and presidential elections in 2002.

Glavany said the Socialists must listen to the Greens.

The government has not made a decision on the nuclear issue and observers believe Voynet, loath to lose the party's first and only cabinet post, is as much playing to her audience as seriously attacking the coalition of Socialists, Greens and Communists.