3 September 1999

French step up action against macs & cokes

FRENCH farmers have stepped up their campaign against McDonalds and Coca-Cola, in defiance of the US companies claims that their presence in France is of net benefit to the rural economy.

On Tuesday, groups of farmers descended on up to 20 McDonalds outlets to vent their anger at the continued targeting of their products by the US government.

Washington has imposed 100% import taxes on fois gras pate and Roquefort cheese in retaliation for the EUs continued ban on hormone-treated beef.

The French farmers have been particularly irked by the continued imprisonment of one of their number, Jose Bove, who is accused of leading a group that ransacked a McDonalds construction site at Millau in the south of the country.

As well as the demonstrations at fast food outlets, more general protests were held in towns and cities across the country against the current slump in producer prices and the increasing power of multinational companies.

To try and diffuse the situation, McDonalds has offered to drop its charges against Mr Bove, while Coca-Cola has pointed out that it is the countrys biggest user of sugar beet.