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German farmers protest new agricultural policy which promotes organic practices

Wednesday, October 23rd 2019 - 09:40 UTC
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Long convoys of tractors held up traffic at the main protest sites in Berlin and Bonn, both home to federal government offices Long convoys of tractors held up traffic at the main protest sites in Berlin and Bonn, both home to federal government offices

Thousands of farmers drove their tractors into German cities on Tuesday, in protest at the government's new agricultural policies which they say will hurt their livelihoods and make them scapegoats for climate change.

Long convoys of tractors held up traffic at the main protest sites in Berlin and Bonn, both home to federal government offices, while thousands more honked their horns and blocked roads in cities including Munich, Hanover and Stuttgart.

The protesters are furious at a new package of regulations introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government last month, which includes plans to ban the controversial weed killer glyphosate by 2023 and limits the use of fertilizer to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater.

Glyphosate, sold under the trade name Roundup, has been blamed for plummeting insect populations and according to some studies causes cancer in humans, but supporters of the widely used product insist it is a safe and effective tool to ensure agricultural productivity.

One of the demonstrators in Bonn held up a sign that read “Tuesdays for Farmers”, DPA news agency reported, in a play on the “Fridays for Future” strikes calling for action against climate change.

Many farmers have said they are fed up with “farmer bashing” by environmental activists, who they say have made agricultural businesses the bogeyman in the climate debate.

German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner voiced support for the farmers.

“They make the food we eat, they work hard, but they are seen by some as nothing more than 'polluters' or 'animal abusers'. And that is neither right nor fair,” she told the Bild daily.

Angry farmers took to the streets in similar protests in France on Tuesday, while Dutch farmers have staged two nationwide demonstrations in recent weeks.

 

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