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Bové Relishes a Second Bite

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Published on Sunday, August 12, 2001 in the Observer of London Bové Relishes a Second
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2001
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Published on Sunday, August 12, 2001 in the Observer of

      Bové Relishes a Second Bite
      France's Favorite Food Campaigner is Back at His Most Famous

      by Stuart Jeffries in Millau, France

      Men with big mustaches and women with deep peasant tans
      rolled into this bucolic town on their tractors yesterday to
      make a stand for French food and to condemn the United
      States' tariffs on Gallic delicacies.

      Truffle producers, Roquefort cheese and foie gras makers,
      shallot growers and goat farmers were joined by a motley
      crew of anti-globalization campaigners who camped on the
      town's rugby pitch.

      They have been called here by the man with the biggest
      mustache of all, sheep farmer-cum-globetrotting media
      celebrity José Bové. Two years after he and some like-minded
      campaigners from the French small farmers' union, the
      Confédération Paysanne, vandalized Millau's branch of
      McDonald's, the pipe-smoking activist has organized a mass
      rally outside the same burger joint.

      Today the tractors will form a blockade outside McDonald's
      in what is intended to be a peaceful protest. Some 250 CRS
      riot police will be on hand, though Bové - now a veteran of
      anti-globalization demonstrations in Seattle and Genoa -
      doubts there will be violence. 'Millau is not Genoa,' he
      said. 'There's no reason that there should be problems. This
      time we don't intend to put a foot inside McDonald's. The
      police will be here and we won't fight them.'

      But with a town of 20,000 swollen for the weekend to nearly
      double that number by arriving protesters, Millau's police
      know they have to be vigilant.

      The rally has been called to highlight the fact that in the
      two years since Bové's symbolic protest against what he
      called ' la malbouffe americaine ' (crap American food),
      small French farmers are still suffering from a 100 per cent
      US tariff imposed on delicacies such as foie Gras and

      In 1999, Bové was furious about this, not least because he
      makes Roquefort from his sheep's milk. But, more
      importantly, he recognized that the US - backed by the World
      Trade Organization - had slapped tariffs on European
      products in revenge for the European Community banning
      hormone- injected US beef imports. At the same time in
      August 1999, a branch of McDonald's was being built in

      Incensed by this symbolic inroad into la France profonde,
      which he regards as one of the last bastions against
      unwholesome agriculture, Bové and some colleagues called the
      local police and warned them they were going to vandalize
      the restaurant. He was arrested as a result of his action.

      Two years on, the US duty is still in force and French
      farmers are feeling the pinch. The Roquefort Makers'
      Federation claims its US sales have fallen by 30 per cent.

      Yesterday, holidaymakers heading for the beaches of the
      South of France joined with arriving protesters to cause
      gridlock outside Millau, France's glove-making capital.

      The town was dominated by talk of Bové's rally. Marc Dehani,
      the manager of the Millau McDonald's, had not decided
      whether he will open his restaurant today, but said angrily:
      'If I do close, it won't be Bové who pays my 50 employees.'
      Dehani said he met Bové once. 'There was no reasoning with
      him. He has his ideas, full stop. It's not very democratic.'

      Dehani defended McDonald's against Bové's attacks: 'We work
      as partners with French agriculture. We buy French, and
      serve one million meals a day.'

      But for Bové and his supporters McDonald's exemplifies the
      inexorable march of globalization and multinationals, with
      all their threats to the small producer.

      'For me, malbouffe means both the standardization of food -
      the same taste from one end of the world to the other - and
      the choice of food associated with the use of hormones and
      GMOs,' he says. 'The food industry regards the farmer as
      merely the supplier of raw commodities to meet the need of
      the manufacturers, rather than those of the consumer.'

      These days Bové spends most of his time campaigning against
      globalization and soulless agriculture rather than rearing
      his sheep.

      Two weeks ago he was placed under investigation for
      allegedly libeling French animal feed makers, claiming they
      bought feed infected with mad cow disease from the UK. It is
      the latest in a long line of legal wrangles for Bové, who
      has a 10-month suspended jail term hanging over him for
      destroying genetically altered plants in southern France.

      Dan Clore

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      "It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
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