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Politics as usual
February 7, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Last-minute diplomacy: Less than a week before it left office, the Bush administration tripled the import duty rate on roquefort cheese to 300%, a move which the US hopes will "shut down trade" in the sheep's milk product by making it prohibitively expensive.

To the delight of copy editors everywhere: the war on cheese! Bush sticks it to the French, ostensibly as part of the ongoing fight over the French ban on hormone-treated beef. France's response: "Symbol for symbol. Since the United States has decided to surtax one of the most ancient (cheese) appellations, I think that the French government, with the European Union, must think about a heavy specific tax on imports of Coca-Cola concentrates produced in the US."

The U.S. makes up about 2.5% of the French roquefort market. All the same -- the French governor Michael Malvy sent President Obama a gift-wrapped deluxe box of roquefort cheese - to appeal to his better instincts? Also of interest: The Huffington Post on why we should be like the French. Seth Kalkstein on why cheese doesn't go bad. David Fankhauser on making blue cheese in your basement.
posted by puckish (98 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Freedom Fromage!
posted by Thorzdad at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2009


Roquefort is badass as all get out, the king of cheeses, and I was visibly pissed off for, like, hours when I first heard this news. American anti-French attitudes are ridiculous and ignore literally centuries of cooperation and goodwill.

Taking away my Roquefort? DEATH TO AMERICA
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


The secret that neither political party has yet discovered is that I'm pretty much going to follow whichever one makes it easiest for me to get lots and lots of tasty cheese.

Once again, the republicans aren't doing well.
posted by Caduceus at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


I think this is ridiculous, especially given that while I may not entirely agree with France's opinion of hormone treated beef, I nonetheless believe it's genuine. I don't think it's merely a fuck you to the US (although they may view it as an unintended benefit). It'll be interesting to see if any lawsuits get filed because of this.
posted by whoaali at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cheese is for eating? I thought cheesing was when you held your male unfixed cat's nuts up to your face and got him to squirt you with fluid, so you could then trip out about breasts. Man, I gotta find some better educational programming!
posted by jamstigator at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2009


Only 2.5%. That seems quite low since the US is large enough that it tends to be a large market share even for unpopular products. I guess we really don't like roquefort.
posted by smackfu at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2009


Roquefort is badass as all get out, the king of cheeses,

Parmigiano Reggiano would like a word with you, sir. and gorgonzola.

(actually roquefort is some pretty tasty cheese.
Fuckin' Bush.)
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2009


Red Leicester? Caerphilly? Bel Paese? Red Windsor? Stilton? Emmental? Gruyère? Any Norwegian Jarlsberger, per chance? Liptauer? Lancashire? White Stilton? Danish Blue? Double Gloucester? Cheshire? Dorset Blue Vinney? Brie, Roquefort, Pont-l'Évêque, Port Salut, Savoyard, Saint-Paulin, Carre-de-L'Est, Bresse-Bleu, Boursin? Camembert, perhaps? Gouda? Edam? Caithness? Smoked Austrian? Japanese Sage Darby? Er, Wensleydale? Greek Feta? Er, Gorgonzola? Parmesan? Mozzarella? Pippo Crème? Danish Fimboe? Czech sheep's milk? Venezuelan Beaver Cheese? How about Cheddar? Ilchester?

-It's not much of an administration, is it?
Finest in the world.
-Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.
Well, it's so purely patriotic, sir.
- It's certainly uncontaminated by government. Look, does this cheese duty rate have any useful economic value to the country at all?
No.
- That figures. Predictable really, I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me: Have you done any actual useful public work at all over the past 8 years?
Yes, sir.
-Really?
(pause)
No. Not really, sir.
-You haven't.
No, sir, not a scrap. I was deliberately wasting citizen's time.
-Well, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shoot you.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2009 [32 favorites]


I guess we really don't like roquefort.

And yet the cheese that comes in aerosols seems to sell just fine. Curious, that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2009


what a sensless waste of a bullet.
posted by jonmc at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2009


And yet the cheese that comes in aerosols seems to sell just fine.

I like the roquefort and the stilton and the gorgonzola and the chevre and all that shit , but sometimes Easy Cheese on a Ritz cracker hits the spot. It's a complicated world.
posted by jonmc at 11:49 AM on February 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Wait, is that why I couldn't find Petit Basque at any Whole Foods cheese counter in Massachusetts from December up until a few weeks ago?
posted by lizzicide at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2009


Let's all meet mid-Atlantic for a reimagined philly cheese steak sandwich.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:57 AM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You need roquefort to make a proper Cobb salad. I can't locate any.

Therefore, fuck you Bush.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:02 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am eating "extra-sharp" cheddar slices on Chicken In A Biskit crackers right now, and it's NOT EXTRA-SHARP. In fact, it's barely sharp at all. Medium, perhaps.

Can I blame Bush for this? 'cause I really, really want to.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:04 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


SURELY THIS!
posted by paisley henosis at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


You've got a Roquefort on your shoulder.
What's a Roquefort?
Oh, about 300% more expensive, import duty rate-wise
posted by ORthey at 12:11 PM on February 7, 2009


Especially surprising since it's hard to imagine a cheese more tailor-named for the US market than Roquefort. Laserbrick?
posted by ~ at 12:12 PM on February 7, 2009


Wait, is that why I couldn't find Petit Basque at any Whole Foods cheese counter in Massachusetts from December up until a few weeks ago?

No offense, but you should submit that here.
posted by jonmc at 12:13 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clinton imposed a 100% tariff. Bush merely tripled it; likely as a slap in the face to France for failing to support his ill fated war in Iraq.
posted by caddis at 12:17 PM on February 7, 2009


This smacks of a payoff for someone. Either someone's going to benefit financially, or it was a final lipsticked smack on the ass to Cheney or some other Francophobe. It seems like the former since it's so specific. Why pick on (yummy) Roquefort when the French make 265 kinds of cheese?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:19 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best President, or Bestest President?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cheese is for eating? I thought cheesing was when you held your male unfixed cat's nuts up to your face and got him to squirt you with fluid, so you could then trip out about breasts. Man, I gotta find some better educational programming!

I am deliriously grateful that I have no idea what the fuck that means.

On topic:

Don't fuck around with a persons cheese, that's just totally low end and shitty.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:24 PM on February 7, 2009


Give me cheese or give me death.
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2009


Président Cheese
posted by jouke at 12:27 PM on February 7, 2009


Nobody told me that I would get free roquefort if I became President. I would have applied myself more if I had known this.
posted by queensissy at 12:27 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clinton imposed a 100% tariff. Bush merely tripled it;

Thanks for pointing that out. Clearly a 100% tariff is pretty bad too. How crazy is it that we are paying half the price of our cheese as tax?
posted by smackfu at 12:30 PM on February 7, 2009


The worst part about leaving Besançon was the realization that I would probably never eat Comte cheese again.
posted by rubah at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2009


sometimes Easy Cheese on a Ritz cracker hits the spot. It's a complicated world.

My dad works in the packaging business and a few years ago he was working on labeling for the metal canister for Easy Cheese. He came home one day with several CASES of unmarked Easy Cheese canisters. They were all different flavors and you never knew which one you were going to get. The only rule my mother insisted upon was that once a canister was opened, it had to be finished before we could open another one, she really didn't care how much we consumed.
That entire summer was like Easy Cheese Roulette (because goddam I hated that nacho shit, but needed to finish it so I could hopefully chance upon some delicious bacon & cheddar) and I haven't eaten Easy Cheese since.

But now I'm craving it and in my cupboard at home I have a fuckload of crackers waiting to be eaten. I just now realized exactly what to put on them.

Complicated world indeed.
posted by mesh gear fox at 12:33 PM on February 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


Anybody else got the theme to Rockford Files running through their heads right now?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


American anti-French attitudes are ridiculous and ignore literally centuries of cooperation and goodwill.

Well, up to a point. Leaving aside such pre-revolutionary details as the French and Indian war, in the early days America had issues with Citizen Genet, the Quasi-War. Jefferson worried the country might go to war with Napoleon's France, and it was a stunner when Madison managed to pull off that land deal. The Union had doubts about France during the Civil War, and protested the Maximilian mischief they got into in Mexico. I believe they still owe America for debts incurred during WWI, never mind WWII, which is a little unfriendly. Sneered at the Doughboys when they first went over there, and it was only Pershing's being a hard ass on the issue that American soldiers were not used as replacement cannon fodder under French commanders. DeGaulle? Not the most friendly guy to American interests, even if his French was a pleasure to listen to.

So, yeah, Yay for cheese and Lafayette and Lady Liberty, and boo hiss for this sniping (expect calls for more of same as economy goes downhill), but let's be clear that it's not been all smooth sailing until the Bush crew came to office. Very much love hate, as it frequently is with France and the outside world.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, but I do now. Thanks.
posted by Xoebe at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2009


let them eat cheese.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2009


So the way to fix problems America's exporters are having is to shit on American consumers? Whoever came up with this should be tarred and feathered.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2009


mesh gear fox: the cheese & bacon one is particularly tasty.
posted by jonmc at 12:45 PM on February 7, 2009


mesh gear fox: the cheese & bacon one is particularly tasty.

Oh, I'm aware. However, I seem to recall the bacon pieces always clogging up the the nozzle. That was such a pain in the ass.
posted by mesh gear fox at 12:48 PM on February 7, 2009


"What is that funky smell?"
posted by woodway at 12:49 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


IS this just a political lesson in how to carry the dairy states?
posted by Cranberry at 12:53 PM on February 7, 2009


The appropriate thing for Bush to do was to send Sarkozy a case of hormone treated beef.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2009


Bush administration had their eyes on the really crucial issues of our time until the very end.
posted by cogneuro at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Cheese is for eating? I thought cheesing was when you held your male unfixed cat's nuts up to your face and got him to squirt you with fluid, so you could then trip out about breasts. Man, I gotta find some better educational programming!

I am deliriously grateful that I have no idea what the fuck that means."


Cheesing, man. They call it cheesing 'cause it's FON to DUE.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Anybody else got the theme to Rockford Files running through their heads right now?"

Right now? Whattya mean, right now? It's the soundtrack to my life, my friend.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


American anti-French attitudes are ridiculous

but are held by only the dimmest Americans, the same ones who hold all sorts of other ridiculous beliefs about other nationalities. There's not much you can do about dumb guys but learn to live with them, try not to let them operate heavy machinery, and hope they don't vote.
posted by pracowity at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2009


woodway, that is one of the best kid's books ever
posted by caddis at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2009


Cheese-eating surrender monkeys!
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on February 7, 2009


woodway, that is one of the best kid's books ever

As well -- one of my childhood favorites: Anatole.
posted by ericb at 1:15 PM on February 7, 2009


American anti-French attitudes are ridiculous ...

Attitudes held only by right-wing nutjobs and xenophobic, protectionist assholes like George W., Dick Cheney (and I do mean dick), Donald Rumsfeld et al. In other words, folks who are irrelevant these days.
posted by ericb at 1:27 PM on February 7, 2009


And yet the cheese that comes in aerosols seems to sell just fine.

Miss Varla Jean Merman.
posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2009


This is how Nazi Germany Started, or something.
posted by ob at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2009


I think you'll find it's the European Union, not just France, that has a ban on American and Canadian hormone-enhanced beef meat. The first 100% rise of tax on the Roquefort is what decided José Bové to dismantled a McDonald outlet (which hadn't opened yet) in Millau in 1999.
The dispute is still going on at the WTO and Europe is expected to make the next move by substantiating their claim that the hormones used in North American beef production are carcinogens amongst other things.
posted by surrendering monkey at 2:05 PM on February 7, 2009


Damn them. Damn them all to hell!

Luckily, the block I have should outlast this stupidity.
posted by jellywerker at 2:10 PM on February 7, 2009


Roquefort cheese is the food of the gods. Creamy, tangy, pungent. You know you have the good stuff if the grocery bag it's in smells noticeably like a barnyard on the trip home. No other blue-veined cheese can equal it.

Damn.
posted by longsleeves at 2:10 PM on February 7, 2009


Ericb, I love Varla Jean. Thank you for that!!
posted by pearlybob at 2:17 PM on February 7, 2009


Note that "France's response" about Coca-Cola is just some goofy idea from a MP whose constituency includes roquefort producers. Also, it seems that only the concentrate is imported and that most of the French Coca-Cola is made in France anyway. This is neither an official, government-sponsored answer nor a serious one.
posted by elgilito at 2:23 PM on February 7, 2009


Apparently, none of you know about the powerful American goat lobby.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2009


I dunno, Point Reyes Blue is a pretty decent domestic blue cheese. And the French do have a point about the shitty state of most US & Canadian beef.
posted by GuyZero at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2009


Your own personal cheeses
Someone to feed you cheese, down on your knees
Your own personal cheeses
Cheddar and brie and blue, only for you

Feeling unease when you're out of cheese,
Curds and whey at the close of day
Offer a wish up, I'll bring a Stinking Bishop

Your own personal cheeses
Parmesan, ro-que-fort, you can have more
Your own personal cheeses
If you're not sated yet, try some Raclette

Feeling undone by a ripe Stilton,
Cotherstone melting in the sun
I will deliver, you know I like the chèvre

Climbing the walls, mozzarella balls
Pepper Jack, you're about to crack
If you really need 'em, I'll slice you up some Edam

Reach out the chutney
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:50 PM on February 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


The Powerful American Goat Lobby has released an official statement: Whaaaaat?
posted by ooga_booga at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2009


Why didn't I see this mentioned in the '100 things you may not know about the Bush administration' pamphlet? Or was this lumped in with the 'protecting the nation from foreign invaders' stuff?
posted by Avelwood at 3:20 PM on February 7, 2009


And it's only a matter of time before Sheep Cheney weighs in.
posted by ooga_booga at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2009


It's not just cheese...truffles and filled gourmet chocolates are affected, too. Sigh.
posted by mynameisluka at 4:05 PM on February 7, 2009


Oh man, I just remembered the fresh mozzarella in the fridge. Mmm, cheese.

Slightly OT, is there a good history out there (or article) that talks about how we came up with cheese? Because it's a pretty involved process, and it would be interesting to know how long humans have been creating it, what the first known cheeses, were, etc.
posted by emjaybee at 4:12 PM on February 7, 2009


"Cheese, Motherfucker, Can you spell it?"
posted by Balisong at 4:20 PM on February 7, 2009


Pt. Reyes Blue, like Gorgonzola, is a cow's milk cheese. That special tangyness in Roquefort comes from sheep's milk. Food of the gods indeed, especially in combination with Sauternes and freshly baked bread.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:44 PM on February 7, 2009


at least he didn't send them usda peanut butter
posted by pyramid termite at 4:49 PM on February 7, 2009


Your favorite cheese stinks.

But in a good way.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:32 PM on February 7, 2009


I can has cheese?
posted by mattdidthat at 5:50 PM on February 7, 2009


metafilter: bacon pieces always clogging up the nozzle
posted by flaterik at 6:01 PM on February 7, 2009


Might I recommend?

Rule of thumb: All cheese problems can be solved by turning to Wisconsin.
posted by Bonzai at 6:46 PM on February 7, 2009


And yet the cheese that comes in aerosols seems to sell just fine. Curious, that.

That's not cheese, though.

Roquefort is motherfuckin' cheese.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:41 PM on February 7, 2009


/pulls face from a wheel of gruyere
They make cheese in France, too?
/torches a block of raclette, spreads it on walnut bread.
posted by Goofyy at 8:38 PM on February 7, 2009


Oh you asshole. I have been craving raclette for months.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:48 PM on February 7, 2009


Bonzai -- Rule of thumb: All cheese problems can be solved by turning to Wisconsin.

Surprisingly, there are those who might take exception to that maxim.
posted by deCadmus at 9:43 PM on February 7, 2009


As much as I want to agree with Bonzai, I also have to agree with deCadmus... and also put forth that some of the best cheddar comes from New York State.

But, I gotta say; fuck the Californian cheese makers.


My own cheese story. There is a bar in my home town called Brasserie V. The owner spent a good amount of time in Belgium. Came back with all these wonderful contacts to get damn good international beer. And decided that what we needed here in Madison was not another local bar, not that there's anything wrong with the beer here in WI, but that we needed an import beer bar.

One amazing chef, and a choice selection of beers, cheeses and frites later. One of the best bars in town, wherein I had my first experience with "Humboldt Fog". This is a brie type cheese wrapped around a core of blue-veined goodness.

I don't know where he, the owner, found this cheese but I gotta get me some more.

/addict.
posted by Severian at 10:07 PM on February 7, 2009


I had my first experience with "Humboldt Fog". This is a brie type cheese wrapped around a core of blue-veined goodness

Hook a homo up. Seriously, that sounds like mouthgasms.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:20 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


VT, WI?

I don't think so.

There is some very good cheese being made here in the states, and very much more industrial grade pablum, but obsessive attention to taste, quality and tradition still goes to Europe. Just go to dinner in a French speaking region and listen to your waiter discuss the cheese course with the same passion that a sommelier discusses the wine. Find that in VT or WI.
posted by caddis at 1:07 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, as a European, let me moderate a bit the Bush-hate on this. The US is perfectly entitled to this as a retaliatory measure since the EU hasn't complied with a WTO ruling re. its ban on hormone beef.

Now, I personally may feel rather queasy at the idea of hormonated beef, but rules are rules, and we Europeans have signally failed to provide any scientific backing whatsoever to the ban. Not that the US doesn't use ridiculous "food safety" rules to put hurdles in the way of foreign produce (like, for instance, delicious Spanish cured ham and other pork products), but at least they're less crass about it.

The hormone ban (like the hurdles to GM food) is the response of craven politicians to very loud, very self-serving activists in the mould of José Bové. Who, as it has been noted, is a Roquefort maker (and, quite ironically, the wayward son of a noted agrochemist, who's already rebuked his son publically in more than one occasion).
posted by Skeptic at 3:52 AM on February 8, 2009


To my mind, what Obama should do is to increase taxes on meat treated with hormones, and significantly lower the taxes on Roquefort. I live a few miles away from the place where the cheese is produced, with high quality standards, using milk from specifically breeded ewes which are kept near - in a beautiful outdoor setting far away from any pollution source - from the underground caves wherein the Cheese is put at rest for a few months (check this).
Sure, José Bové has some links with Roquefort. He has been breeding Ewes. Is it a reason not to defend Roquefort ? To define him as a self-serving activist is but a caricature. His ideas are often shared by a lot of people who are seldom asked for their opinion. He's a spokesman for Via Campesina, and has been involved the creation of Attac.
posted by nicolin at 4:30 AM on February 8, 2009


skeptic is right on, and that is pretty much how the game is played in trade wars. It certainly would be better though if everyone just made nice.

I don't particularly care for it when a loud group of activists end up making choices for me. Perhaps I like hormone fed beef, gm corn, cigarettes, trans fat etc. If the ban removes something unhealthy that you could not avoid without the ban, say second hand smoke, then fine, but even then some of those bans go further than needed to protect the innocent. Here no ban is needed. How about instead a big red warning label (WARNING - THIS FOOD CONTAINS ARTIFICIAL GROWTH HORMONES)?

With the current state of the world economy and world trade I expect that this dispute will not just go away due to a change in administration.
posted by caddis at 5:20 AM on February 8, 2009


His ideas are often shared by a lot of people who are seldom asked for their opinion.

Because they share it readily and loudly. Attac is a good example.
posted by Skeptic at 5:44 AM on February 8, 2009


Unforgivable.
posted by wastelands at 6:02 AM on February 8, 2009


Caddis,

Apparently you've not had the local stuff. There's a farm near me that makes some of the best goat's milk and sheep's milk cheeses I've ever had the privilege to consume. Both fresh spreadable chevre type cheeses, and harder aged types. That's what that french waiter is going to be raving about anyway, the local cheese that he or she has the pleasure of serving. AND, where else but in Wisconsin can you find local ordinances that require cheese to be served with the pie course at all eating establishments?

Basically what I'm saying is: don't claim to be the most enthusiastic, because there's someone who is almost as enthusiastic as you somewhere else.
posted by Severian at 6:05 AM on February 8, 2009


This has happened before, back in 1999, that time around we got loads of cheap Roquefort turning up here in the UK
*rubs hands in gleeful anticipation*
posted by Lanark at 6:50 AM on February 8, 2009


Skeptic: "His ideas are often shared by a lot of people who are seldom asked for their opinion.

Because they share it readily and loudly. Attac is a good example.
"


Well, I meant people who do not necessarily belong to groups or movements.


Skeptic: "Well, as a European, let me moderate a bit the Bush-hate on this. The US is perfectly entitled to this as a retaliatory measure since the EU hasn't complied with a WTO ruling re. its ban on hormone beef.

Now, I personally may feel rather queasy at the idea of hormonated beef, but rules are rules, and we Europeans have signally failed to provide any scientific backing whatsoever to the ban. Not that the US doesn't use ridiculous "food safety" rules to put hurdles in the way of foreign produce (like, for instance, delicious Spanish cured ham and other pork products), but at least they're less crass about it.
"

Hormonated beef isn't produced through a perfectly natural process. And, on a modest level, Civil Disobedience could be used to sum up some of the ideas of the people who appreciate José Bové and think that any rule doesn't qualified as a rule to be followed blindly.
posted by nicolin at 7:15 AM on February 8, 2009


caddis: "
I don't particularly care for it when a loud group of activists end up making choices for me. Perhaps I like hormone fed beef, gm corn, cigarettes, trans fat etc. If the ban removes something unhealthy that you could not avoid without the ban, say second hand smoke, then fine, but even then some of those bans go further than needed to protect the innocent. Here no ban is needed. How about instead a big red warning label (WARNING - THIS FOOD CONTAINS ARTIFICIAL GROWTH HORMONES)?
"

What kind of a label are you going to put on the products using crops that weren't supposed to be contaminated by GM ?
posted by nicolin at 7:19 AM on February 8, 2009


What kind of a label are you going to put on the products using crops that weren't supposed to be contaminated by GM ?

Who cares? They aren't banned. ;)
posted by caddis at 7:40 AM on February 8, 2009


nicolin Well, I meant people who do not necessarily belong to groups or movements.

Like Claude Lagorse, the farmer who killed himself before being "outed" by Bové's friends as cultivating perfectly legal GM maize? (It is quite symptomathic of their dominance of the PR wars that there are hardly any articles about his suicide to be found in English).

On the contrary, Bové has lent a voice to a number of groups and movements, among which some which may have genuine social concerns, but also plenty of professional organisers, hangers-on and mischief-makers.

Hormonated beef isn't produced through a perfectly natural process.

Animal husbandry and agriculture have never been perfectly natural processes. Do you want to eat only "perfectly natural" food? Go back to hunting and gathering.

Rejecting an agricultural method as "unnatural", without any solid scientific evidence as to any harm, reminds me strongly of the Roman Catholic Church's stance against "unnatural" contraception.

And, on a modest level, Civil Disobedience could be used to sum up some of the ideas of the people who appreciate José Bové and think that any rule doesn't qualified as a rule to be followed blindly.

But if you are going to disregard the Rule of Law, the least that can be asked of you are to provide some evidence as to your reasons. Gandhi was quite good at that (not for nothing he was a lawyer by training).

Just as Bush's disregard of scientific consensus regarding global warming was justly vilified, your disregard of scientific consensus regarding use of hormones or GM organisms isn't very defendable either. And while disregarding the rules with justification may qualify as "civil disobedience", doing it without any such justification, and just because you look good in a moustache, is mere lawbreaking.
posted by Skeptic at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2009


Oh, well, I don't want perfectly natural processes only. I was just pointing to the difference between Roquefort and Hormonated Beef, in order to feebly justify my stance, and provide some reasons, if not evidences, as you said. I don't know for sure whether I should follow an impulse and talk about Gandhi, the Roman Catholic Church and contraception, suicide among farmers, the difference between global warming and ogm, Republicans, moustaches or stick around.

You said that USA were perfectly entitled to do this since EU didn't respect WTO agreements. I just said that there was a difference between hormonated beef and Roquefort, which was that Roquefort was produced thanks to an entirely natural process. So it seems that the decisions were not made, obviously, for the same reasons. Breaking a rule for public health concerns isn't the same than breaking a rule to punish your commercial partners.

I'm sure that in your eyes, this makes me the like of a number of popes, of the most unpopular american president under the sun, of ancestors accustomed to caves and raw food, but I still think that some rules doesn't deserve too much respect. WTO sucks.
posted by nicolin at 8:57 AM on February 8, 2009


nicolin The EU, and France, signed up to the WTO. If we don't like the WTO, we can always withdraw, but then the US will be free to set whatever protectionist barriers they want, not just against Roquefort, but also France's other hundreds of cheeses, as well as any other product. Of course, we could also set whatever barriers we want to any other product, but then I don't think at the end anybody will win. The WTO plainly doesn't suck, even if it may not be perfect.

The point that I was trying to make is that Bush's anti-Roquefort tariff was justified under WTO rules that allow one country to retaliate against another refusing to bring down a protectionist barrier, with another barrier to approximately the same volume of trade. The retaliating country is free to choose where to retaliate, and usually chooses an export with maximum political impact. For instance, the EU previously was allowed to retaliate against US steel tariffs with tariffs against i.a. motorbikes (hitting Harley-Davidson, which happened to be in the constituency of a US senator with particular weight in trade matters). The same has happened here, in the opposite direction.

Fact is, the barriers against hormonated beef are, from a scientific point of view, about as justified as those against stinky (yet delicious) mouldy cheese. And the second are legally justified by the first.
posted by Skeptic at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2009


Also, the EU had its opportunity to substantiate its public health concerns. Unfortunately, IT FAILED. There was no solid evidence whatsoever that hormonated beef was a public health hazard, and the decision to ban it was based only on a political decision under public pressure, not on any sound scientific advice.
posted by Skeptic at 9:26 AM on February 8, 2009


nicolin, you are right, but then this is war and all is fair in love and war, or so they say. I don't really have a position here, as the issue is too complicated. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong, hence, my admonition to make nice. If in a marriage spouses get too caught up in who is right and who is wrong then the marriage will inevitably fail. When they endeavor to make nice, despite their differences, they might just make it. Trade relations really are somewhat similar, although more monetary and less emotional.
posted by caddis at 4:59 PM on February 8, 2009


Some of the comments in this thread read like a satire from Stuff White People Like.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:25 PM on February 8, 2009


There seems to be a conflict between environmental awareness and the wholesale advocacy of GM tech that occurs here on the Blue...Genes do not stand on their own. They were made in the context of their environment, and they influence it. And I'm Skeptical that they would ("Ohhh, but Science is goood! Don't stand in the way!") ....simply Never, fuck it up. Thank heavens the French are holding onto their sanity.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:43 PM on February 8, 2009


I really want to move back to California because I totally miss awesome burritos.
And yet, my taste for exotic cheese has grown exponentially since moving to the UK. Don't you guys want me back?? :(

OMG now I have a hankering for some wenslydale with cranberries.
posted by like_neon at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2009


But, I gotta say; fuck the Californian cheese makers.
...

One of the best bars in town, wherein I had my first experience with "Humboldt Fog". This is a brie type cheese wrapped around a core of blue-veined goodness.

I don't know where he, the owner, found this cheese but I gotta get me some more.


I know you must be joking (with the name Humboldt?), but just in case ... look before you fuck. Cypress Grove Chevre is located in Arcata, CA. The Purple Haze is better.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:46 PM on February 9, 2009


Other than the name recognition, is there something truly that distinctive about Roquefort that is unreproduceable outside of the region?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:41 PM on February 10, 2009


Well, there's an English website (corporate) which gives some details about the place, the breed and the crafts involved.
posted by nicolin at 1:16 AM on February 11, 2009


And, an article from a local newspaper giving a roquefort hamburger recipe.
posted by nicolin at 7:56 AM on February 15, 2009


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