Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's Up in Brittany?

So the PS and EE have an agreement everywhere except in Brittany. Why? According to EE, it's a matter of looking out for the peasants and the consequences of fertilizer runoff: Speaking of René Louail, a former official of a farmer's group, EE's Christian Guynovarc'h said:

Et nous demandions que lui soit confiée la vice-présidence car nous estimions capital de lutter contre ces fléaux des algues vertes et de la pollution aux nitrates. Mais le PS ne voulait pas en entendre parler". Côté PS, c'est ce qu'on appelle, sans plus de précision, "les exigences insurmontables d'EE.

Hmm. I guess I need a little context here. I would think that farmers might find it difficult to give up their nitrogen-rich fertilizers. But I'm a city guy. Anybody know the story?


yabonn_fr said...

I kind of know, but never really looked into it - this may be the spirit of the thing, more than the letter.

The "fertilizer problem" is that Brittany is drowning in pig shit. Big production, big business, jobs, lots of sewage, big use as fertilizer.

It causes the green stinky algae on the beaches (maybe you remember stories of horses and dogs dieing in it). Bad for the rivers too. I was hopeful for a while - surely the Big Business/Tourism Chapter is going to do something? But the dumbasses chose to just transport the green crap away, instead of asking for less pig shit.

PS is Pig Business friendly, EE less so.

Unknown said...


Richard Mounts said...

To add to Yabonn's comment, France Nature Environnement put out a Dossier de Presse about the time of the Salon de l'agriculture with comments from Jean-Claude Bevillard, FNE's agriculture expert, noting that Brittany, with 7 percent of France's land area, produces 50 percent of its pork and poultry products, apparently with hefty use of fertilizers. The Grenelle 1 talked about improving water quality by, among other things, reducing pollutants from fertilizers and pesticides. But,as Yabonn indicates, the plans for dealing with the Brittany algae seem aimed more at clean up than dealing with the sources. I'm in the U.S., but from surveying Ouest France fairly often, is seems the algae is a major issue in the area, and probably draws attention especially from environmentalists in other regions.

sf reader said...

Nitrates in agricultural runoff come generally from two sources: fertilizers, and animal waste. If Brittany is producing a disproportionate share of France's pork and poultry, it is likely that production is happening at facilities with large numbers of animals, which poses problems for disposal of the waste. For example, there is too much of it to be used as fertilizer, so that it is stockpiled. The stockpiling method fails to take into account the safe disposal of leachate from rainwater, so the nitrates (and other pollutants) make their way into streams, rivers and thence to the coast - or directly to the coast.

At least here in the States, about 7-10 years ago, it was typical for contracts between major poultry companies and individual farmers to provide that the poultry company owned the live birds, but the farmer owned all dead birds and all waste products. Thus, the poultry company had no responsibility to ensure the dead birds or waste were properly disposed of.

Cartesian said...

I am also a city guy, but I know that there is not only a problem of fertilizer in Brittany, because in some places there are also some specificities from the structure of the coast which produce some great conditions in order that some algae do stop on some beaches.

Anonymous said...

I'm living in Britanny, and can say that this is just an excuse.

Alguae problem (without solution as now) are evocated in all lists. But, Europe Ecologie is the green party, so "better".

This alguae currently create a major ecological problem, with economical consequences (cost of treatment and impact on tourism). But, like always in brittany, this problem as reach a general consensus, and all parties have plan to solve it.

This is a local specificity : even if the local representation switch side, the councilor follow the same general plans / lines. They just finish 20 years of lobbying for a better TGV line in brittany, with a reprensation from right and left (this program start from a right local council under a left governement, to finish with a left local council under the current governement).

But, here, Europe Ecologie is whining about petty political concern. They want 14-15 councilor, when PS list offer 10-12 posts.

Because of the initial PS list composition (a broad list, from all left with some local green dissident) and the first turn result (37,19% for PS), Le Drian (current PS representative and regional president) decide to ignore Europe Ecologie demands.

Just petty local politics, because even with 3 candidates, Brittany will be a left region sunday evening.

Anonymous said...

(Same poster as before)

Alguae are resulting from agricultoral abuse before 1990, and Brittany struggle to solve this problem since.

They grow on nitrate (from fertilizer and animal waste, more from the latter than the former), and thrive in large bay with low current. (best example is bay of Lannion, where the horse died). No short term solution exist, and currently, only option is to collect them, store them ... and reuse them as fertilizer (if you are seeing a pattern, it's normal).

They don't impact river directly, but nitrate level rendered several springs dangerous and dangerously undrinkable. The worst case are close, but time and new filtering technology has allow to reopen several spring (most notably, a mineral water production line from brittany is now reusable for babies' bottle)