French Farmers Feeding
Cows Banned Drugs
By Ian Sparks
The Sunday Mail (London)
The question mark over the safety of French food grew last night as the boycott by British shoppers spread.
New evidence emerged that a vast proportion of meat produced by French farmers contains banned drugs.
The revelation will infuriate consumers already outraged at the way the French have defied a Europe-wide ruling that British beef is safe and Friday's disclosure that French livestock has been raised on sewage mixed with mud and sludge from septic tanks.
Now French farmers have admitted that their animals are routinely fed hormones and antibiotics banned under EU regulations. The growth drugs are banned throughout Europe because EU scientists have yet to be convinced they are not linked to cancer and there are worries that widespread use of antibiotics can lead to dangerous microbe resistance to treatment for infections.
Until now French farming unions have boasted of their '100 per cent hormone-free' beef. But last night a senior official of the French farming union broke ranks to destroy that claim.
Jean-Claude Depoil, a regional boss of the FDSEA ñ the equivalent of Britain's National Farmers Union ñ said: 'Eighty per cent of industrially produced meat in France is tainted with illegal drugs, hormones, growth activators or anti-biotics. We know this because of tests carried out by farming union scientists independently.
'Most of these drugs are supplied secretly by farm vets. They pocket a backhander from the farmer and keep quiet about it. They can make a bit of extra cash this way and the farmers can keep producing bigger and bigger animals.' He was backed by farming expert Dr Yves Fournier, of Bordeaux University, who said the French government knew the problem was rife.
'The government does not have the motivation to put in place a rigorous system of cattle random drugs testing,' he said.
And M. Depoil added: 'The technology is available for all meat to be automatically tested using DNA technology before it reaches the shops and also have the piece of meat traced right back to that farmer who raised it.
'Sadly France lacks the political will to put this measure into place.'
In Britain, Tim Yeo, the Shadow Agriculture Secretary, said: 'It's a startling new example of French hypocrisy. As far as I know the EU law has been very rigorously observed here and there should now be an EU inspection to establish whether this evidence of it being broken in France is substantiated.'