Twenty years after Millau: “Macron’s ecological policy is smoke-free”, according to José Bové

On August 12, 1999, several dozen farmers dismantled the McDonald’s under construction in Millau (Aveyron), at the call of the Confédération paysanne, to protest against the American taxes on Roquefort. In front of the journalists, a mustached man in a white T-shirt speaks out to castigate the multinationals “who want us to eat shit and kill the peasants”. José Bové, 46, a producer of sheep’s milk, does not know it yet, but he has just become a key figure in anti-globalization. Twenty years later, the peasant trade unionist has not given up on his convictions. After two terms of MEP in Brussels, he regrets the inaction of the public authorities in the face of the ecological crisis and accuses Emmanuel Macron of “smoking”.

Challenges – Twenty years after the dismantling of McDonald’s in Millau, how do you see the event? The establishment was finally built …

José Bové – But the goal was not to prevent its construction! It was a question of symbolically protesting against the over-taxation of Roquefort decided by the United States and endorsed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) which sanctioned the refusal of the European Union to import beef with American hormones. . The WTO considered that it was up to whoever attacks a product to prove its dangerousness, a regulation still in force today …

Millau is the start of something. For the first time, by opposing globalized and standardized agriculture, that of McDonald’s, to local products and appellations of origin, foremost among which is Roquefort certified since 1925, we have enabled widespread awareness. The French have understood that the fight against globalization is also playing on their plate. The impact of this action as well as the demonstrations which punctuated the WTO summit in Seattle a few months later laid the foundations for the Porto Alegre Social Forum in 2001 and the Cancun protests in 2003, two major events in the world. history of alter-globalization.

Do you support the farmers who degrade the offices of majority deputies after their vote in favor of the Franco-Canadian free trade treaty CETA?

I give my support to all those who demonstrate against free trade agreements. The agrifood sector has nothing to gain from signing these kinds of treaties. I do not know, however, if I would adopt the same mode of action as them. In a mobilization, you have to think about the most popular means, which are likely to lead the majority of the population behind you. In 1999, we had not degraded the McDonald’s in Millau, we had dismantled a construction site, it is not the same thing. And if the citizens had not considered our approach relevant, they would not have been so numerous subsequently, nearly a hundred thousand people, to come and support us during the trial.

What judgment do you make on the ecological balance sheet of Emmanuel Macron and Nicolas Hulot?

Faced with the gravity of the situation, Emmanuel Macron does nothing more than the previous administrations. In view of the dramatic issues of global warming, and while the ecological crisis is accelerating, this is not enough. On agricultural issues, while the next reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) suggests the worst, France is absent subscribers. Worse, the government signs free trade agreements while claiming to lead an ecological policy: it is smoke! We know very well that free trade is the enemy of the planet.

What to think of the majority deputies who voted for CETA just hours after meeting the young environmental activist Greta Thunberg?

They said to themselves: “we are going to do a good publicity stunt!” Others certainly wanted to give a shiver down their spine. But after, they returned to ‘business as usual’. Basically, that doesn’t surprise me, it’s the same speech that we have been hearing for nearly twenty years. For a certain elite, free trade is a hard drug. However, we can see that this model is running out of steam and that agriculture has nothing to do in the WTO …

On a completely different subject, will you commit yourself against the introduction of assisted reproduction for lesbian couples, to which you have always been opposed, on the occasion of the arrival of the bioethics bill before the Assembly in the start of the school year?

Each subject at the same time. It is not good to mix the fight against free trade agreements and social issues.