Wine row

15th December 2006 at 00:00
Two French MPs have created a storm in a decanter by recommending that health education programmes from primary school onwards teach pupils the "beneficial effects of wine".

The suggestion is made in a parliamentary report on how to tackle a decline in consumption of home-produced wine among the French, which has caused panic among traditionalists. Philippe-Armand Martin, co-chair of an association of elected representatives that lobbies for wine producers, and Gerard Voisin, both from the governing conservative UMP party, wrote that "learning good habits for life starts in childhood, and primary school".

"Teaching taste must be part of general education," they said. "Young adults must be acquainted with the beneficial effects of wine as a food."

Xavier Bertrand, health minister, has reacted angrily. "Some people tell me it could be worse - they're not recommending serving beer or wine with school meals," he said. "Before talking about beneficial effects, we must talk about the risks linked to alcohol consumption and addiction."

Wine consumption per capita in France has fallen from 100 to 55 litres a year since 1970.

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