Thursday, April 3, 2008


Sarkozy spoke to the FNSEA, France's largest farmers' organization, yesterday, and though farmers supported him overwhelmingly in the election, he didn't tell them everything they wanted to hear. For one thing, he avoided the contentious issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which was being debated in the AN as he spoke. The president of FNSEA, Jean-Michel Le Metayer (good name for a farmer!), rebuked him rather nicely:

The president should know, in regard to GMOs in particular, that the time has come for transparency and fairness. Agitation in political circles and the media is no substitute for scientific expertise. If GMOs are a problem, fine, but tell us why. We are in Europe, and France can't make its own law on the matter. Germany applied for a ban on Monsanto 810, and it was rejected, yet France would like us to believe that it has additional scientific analysis on the question. This is false, and it has to be said that to ban the product without scientific evidence is going to make us look ridiculous. ... The FNSEA prefers research and truth to le plaisir de faire plaisir.

The pleasure of pleasing: what an excellent description of Sarko's pandering to Bové et compagnie. Sarkozy also suggested to the farmers that they increase the vertical integration of agrobusiness by creating investment funds similar to Unigrains and Sofiproteol, which have increased growers' market power in the grain and edible oils markets. The presumption is that this would yield better prices to growers in their negotiations with retailers, who stand accused of excessive margins on food. He did not address the potential of such a development to increase food prices still further.

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