French in lorry blockade

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The Independent Online
More than 15,000 French farmers set up roadblocks early yesterday in a nationally co-ordinated operation to check lorries suspected of carrying unauthorised meat imports, mainly from Britain and eastern Europe, writes Mary Dejevsky.

Some 2,000 lorries were stopped on trunk routes and motorway toll plazas, and one Dutch lorry had its tyres slashed when the driver refused to allow his cargo to be checked. Farmers also raided abattoirs and supermarkets in an attempt to hunt down suspect meat.

Police turned a blind eye to the operation, which had been planned in secret by the main farmers' union, the FNSEA, in response to complaints from members about still-falling beef prices, and unconfirmed reports that "rogue" beef was finding its way into the shops. Prices have fallen 40 per cent since the start of the BSE crisis.

Yesterday's checks uncovered only a dozen suspect loads, which were turned over to sanitary inspectors for examination.

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