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A French organic winemaker could face a prison sentence and a hefty fine after refusing to spray his vines with pesticide.
Emmanuel Giboulot will appear before a judge in the city of Dijon on Monday after defying an official order to treat his vineyard against an insect suspected of transmitting a devastating plant disease.
The cicadelle, the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus, is believed to be responsible for the spread of the grapevine disease flavescence doree, which has affected vines in the Cote-d’Or region of Burgundy, where Giboulot produces Cote de Beaune and Hautes Cotes de Nuits wines.
Giboulot claims the pesticide is ineffective and damaging to pollinating insects such as bees, and insists the disease can be fought via more natural means.
The 51-year-old is being prosecuted by a branch of the French agriculture ministry, under article 251-20 of the rural code, for “failing to apply an insecticide treatment to his vineyard” in July last year.
The winemaker faces a six-month prison sentence and a *30,000 (£25,000) fine for refusing to spray his vines.
Officials say they have had to pull up 12 hectares (nearly 30 acres) of vines ravaged by the highly infectious flavescence doree disease in 2012. They say the disease, which first appeared in the 1950s, threatens more than half the Burgundy region’s vineyards and that preventative treatment by pesticide is necessary.