February 25, 2024


Pesticides in Bordeaux – “They want to silence me”

Valery Murad condemns the use of pesticides in the vineyards. A court sentenced her to a large fine for this.

Fought pesticide use in Bordeaux: daughter of winemaker and activist Valerie Murad.

Photo: Thibaud Moritz (AFP)

The day before her father’s death, Valery Murad made a promise to him. “He gave me a mission,” she says. “I have sworn to do the job.” Shortly before, James Bernard Murat gave his daughter a pile of insecticide operating instructions that he meticulously collected. Valerie Murad asserts that the winemaker has followed these instructions for decades.

However, he did develop lung cancer, which, according to the diagnosis, may be caused by an antifungal agent. It was 2012. Since then, Murad has been fulfilling her mission – fighting against the broad mission Use of pesticides In Bordeaux, it is perhaps the most famous wine region in the world.

It relates to the reputation of Bordeaux wine

Murad had 22 wines with the environmental classification HVE examined and publicly denounced the result: all the bottles contained harmful pesticide residues, on average there were eight different types. That sounds like a lot, and it’s legal.

Murad suffered a setback on Thursday. The court found guilty of defamation. The activist must pay a total fine of 125,000 euros. The CIVB Viticulture Association of Bordeaux and dozens of other plaintiffs filed a complaint.

Defamation or freedom of opinion?

The plaintiffs originally requested a higher compensation of around € 450,000. According to «France Info», CIVB President Bernard Varghese said that levels of pesticides are between 60 and 5,000 times less than the legal limit.

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Murad’s trial was over the issue of whether pesticides were covered by the right to freedom of expression. It was all about the good reputation of Bordeaux wines, with manufacturers earning four billion euros a year. The case reminds us of that South Tyrol Apple DisputeFruit growers from northern Italy are taking legal action against environmentalist criticism of the use of pesticides.

“Law of Silence for the Mafia”

“You want to shut me up,” says Murad. It claims that in the Bordeaux area there is a true mafia-like law of silence. Anyone who disgusts them is considered a nest polluter and should fear inaction and professional defects.

Because the wine parlor is strong, so are the dependencies. 50,000 jobs alone are directly dependent on the famous red wine. Insecticides protect these functions: In the warm and humid climate of southwest France, which creates the best conditions for pests, the use of poison prevents devastating crop spoilage.

Mourad, 48, has long escaped dependencies, and she prefers to do administrative work in Bordeaux. Her father told her early on that she was also going to be a winemaker. “It’s a tough job, and if you don’t have one of the best mansions like Lafite-Rothschild, then you’re not making a good living from it,” she says. The parental property was rented out today, “unfortunately not organic.”

Anger leads them

Murad does pesticide tests often. I have already discovered remains all over the area. In apartments, in rest areas, in the water, in the air. Anger that her father died when she was 70 is still driving it. “I’m pissed off basically,” she says. The calm you talk about does not change that.

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Mourad’s opponent is in crisis: overproduction of middle-class wine, US punitive tariffs, and the epidemic are affecting businesses. Murad Bordeaux’s bashing makes the grape growers especially nervous. Especially as some of them are gradually turning to organic farming and thus to gentler methods of protecting the vines under the pressure of changing customer expectations.

The fight between the activist and the wine producers is far from over. Valerie Murad has already announced on Twitter that he will appeal the ruling. Its mission: the absence of pesticides in Bordeaux.