Keyword: intensive farming

France's 'alternative' farmers point to a new rural model

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Pierre-Yves Floch, dans sa porcherie bio © JS Pierre-Yves Floch, dans sa porcherie bio © JS

French farmers last week blocked Paris with more than 1,500 tractors in the latest of a series of protests at the dire financial difficulties many now find themselves in, which they blame on ever-lower prices paid for their produce, taxes and social charges, and industry standards that are strangling them in red tape. But a growing number of smallholdings in France are successfully bucking the trend, proving that there is an economically viable alternative to the failed model of conventional farming and mass production sold on the cheap - in the form of quality produce sold directly to local outlets. Julien Sartre reports from Brittany.

The migrant workers trapped in slave-like conditions in Greece

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 © Reuters © Reuters

In April this year, the supervisors of a strawberry farm in Greece opened fire on a group of immigrant workers who had demanded to be paid their salaries which had been withheld for six months. The shooting left 33 Bangladeshi workers wounded (picture), eight of them seriously hurt. It also revealed the dire conditions in which thousands of immigrant workers live in Greece, underpaid and often undeclared, with little or no possibility of escaping their exploitation in intensive farming businesses. Charalambos Kassimis is a professor and research director of rural sociology with the Athens University of Agriculture. In this interview with Amélie Poinssot, he explains the rural evolution which created the need for foreign labour, and details how many migrants became trapped in an organised "state of slavery" made possible by a “law of silence” enforced by politicians.

Monster killer seaweed is born from intensive farming, says official French study

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 © Jean-Paul Guyomarc'h © Jean-Paul Guyomarc'h

The massive multiplication of potentially deadly seaweed piling up on the coastline of Brittany, north-west France, is the result of chemical pollution of the sea from intensive farming, according to the conclusions of a French government study which calls for sweeping changes in agricultural practices. The toxic algae, which for decades has been invading beaches in the north of Brittany, is blamed for the deaths of dozens of animals (photo) and for plunging several people into near-fatal comas after their poisoning by the lethal gas hydrogen sulphide. The recommendations, if enacted, would be little short of an agricultural and cultural revolution in a region that occupies just 9% of French territory but which is home to 50% of the country’s pig and poultry production. Michel de Pracontal reports.