French goods boycotted in nukes protest

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PEACE campaigners have launched a boycott of French goods in protest at the French government's resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific.

A coalition of anti-nuclearorganisations has been leafleting shoppers outside supermarkets. It aims to cut British consumption of French wine by a quarter and to hit sales of goods like cheeses and cosmetics.

There has been widespreadsupport for boycotts in Australia and New Zealand. The campaign is expected to take off properly today, when thousands will gather in Trafalgar Square for a mass CND rally marking the 50th anniversary of the world's first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert.

Supporters of the British boycott will be urged to change to Australian and New Zealand wines and to tell the French Embassy in London.

Clare Benjamin, of the British Nuclear Test Ban Coalition, said: "France is already suffering from the increasing popularity of Australian wines in the UK. We believe our action will hit the French wine market hard."

More than 100,000 leaflets have already been distributed, some of them illustrated with a wine bottle and a mushroom cloud. Protesters have demonstrated outside French consulates around the country and have publicly poured French wine into the gutter.

The Coalition has 13 member groups, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the National Peace Council, the Green Party and Scientists for Global Responsibility.

French brochures in travel agents have had stickers saying "It's no holiday for the Pacific" inserted and "atomic pomme" labels have been stuck on French apples.

Yorkshire CND staged demonstrations to mark Bastille Day on Friday. Organiser John Brierley said: "It is something everybody can do. In Australia and New Zealand, polls have shown that up to 80 per cent of people are boycotting French goods, and they're even refusing to use the French language: you can't say 'c'est la vie' any more."

One company that would be seriously hit by a boycott is French Wine Farmers Ltd, which imports wine for supermarkets including Sainsburys and Asda. Spokeswoman Claire Plouzennec said: "I don't agree with the tests, nor do most French people. But boycotts are not the solution. They affect the population. People should put pressure on the French government in other ways." Greenpeace agrees: it is not supporting the boycott.

Colin Archer, co-ordinator of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva said those who do not want to undermine small traders should boycott the products of French nationalised industries and government services.

He said: "There is a lot of popular resentment against the French action, which is seen as turning the clock back to an age we had left behind."

Greenpeace profile, page 23