A French organic winemaker has reportedly appeared in court to answer to charges that he defied an official order to spray his vineyard with a pesticide to prevent the spread of a leafhopper insect believed to be responsible for a devastating bacterial disease that has affected vines in Burgundy’s Côte-d’Or region, where emmanuel Giboulot produces Côte de Beaune and Hautes- Côtes de Nuits organic wines. He claims that the pesticide does not work and is harmful to pollinating insects such as bees. He also apparently insists that more natural means can be used to fight the disease. According to a news source, Giboulot faces a six-month prison sentence and €30,000 (us$41,000) fine for failing to apply the insecticide treatment to his vineyard in July 2013. An online petition about his case has reportedly been signed by more than 40,000 supporters, and a large crowd gathered outside the Dijon court on March 3, 2014, before his appearance. Prosecutors have requested that Giboulot pay a €1,000 fine, and the court will reportedly render its verdict on April 7.
Claiming that 30 acres of vines in the region have been uprooted and the “flavescence dorée” disease threatens more than one-half of the Burgundy region’s vineyards, officials contend that preventative treatment is necessary. Giboulot, however, disagrees. He was quoted as saying, “I am not irresponsible and I am not trying to be radical. I simply do not believe that systematic treatment, even without any symptoms of the disease, is the solution. I want to show people that there are options, and that we need to think about our own health and that of our customers. My father began converting to organic farming in the 1970s, and we are now fully organic and biodynamic. I don’t want to undo decades of work applying a treatment where the effects on the health of the vines and the public are as yet unproven.” Biodynamic farming methods, said to be used by 450 wine producers globally, apparently incor- porate ecological and spiritual approaches to farming. See The Guardian and Agence France-Presse, February 23, 2014; Natural Products Online, February 25, 2014.