French press review 15 September 2017

France sparks a global row with calls for a ban of carcinogenic weed killer glyphosate while President Macron makes amends with the military in a new "Sentinelle" directive.


There is a weed killer which clawed its way to the front pages of today's papers known as glyphosate. This, after France vowed to veto an EU Commission proposal to renew the license for the widely-used chemical.

That was despite reassurances by the World Health Organization and the EU's chemicals agency that that it posed no carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through diet.

Opponents of the best-selling herbicide produced by the US agro-chemicals giant Monsanto, led by Greenpeace, point to previous research by the same WHO that concludes it may be carcinogenic.

Libération underlines that the mere mention of the possible presence of a residue of glyphosate in cornflakes consumed in large quantities by children is absolutely damning, especially in a country still traumatized by the still unsettled affair of fipronil-contaminated eggs.

La République des Pyrénées says the French government is absolutely right to seek a ban of the product arguing that half of thirty studies carried out to determine the safety of products derived from carcinogenic glyphosate were found to contain the product.

According to the paper, in June, more than one million people signed a petition, demanding the EU ban. It observes that the EU is scheduled to vote on the matter at meeting of a panel of experts on October 4, and the opposition of France likely means there won't be a sufficient majority in favour of renewing the license.

Meanwhile, Le Figaro revisits the “Sentinelle” anti-terrorism operation which has seen the mobilization of 7000 troops since 2015 to boost security around strategic sites and in urban areas across France.

This, after the government unveiled a series of measures on Thursday to boost flexibility and ease the pressure on the heavily armed soldiers who patrol the streets for long hours, an assignment that never featured in their job description when they opted for a career in the military.

According to the right-wing newspaper, the working conditions of the soldiers has become a cause for concern after knife and hit and run attacks by home-based jihadists which forced dozens of the soldiers’ companions to Invalides in Paris to vent their anger.

Le Figaro says the government reiterates its resolve to keep the Sentinelle force in place, but leaves the flexibility to determine the context of the threat faced in the hands of the force's commanders.

For the publication, that’s a signal from President Macron that he is ready to restore an atmosphere of dialogue and confidence with the military after the high-handed dismissal of respected ex- army chief of staff General Pierre de Villiers.

Le Journal de la Haute-Marne says innovation is key to winning wars, arguing that the rules of deployment ought to evolve depending on the magnitude of the threat faced.

The Sentinelle force it explains, had become too static, too predictable and simply too visible. Furthermore,  from the paper's point of view,  it is reassuring to see that the force's rules of engagement will be based on military logic which conforms after all to the military profession and the motivations that pushed so many young men to get drafted.

As hundreds of thousands of visitors prepare to attend hectic festivities in Paris this week-end to mark the ground-breaking Fête de L'Humanité, the Communist daily, looks beyond the concerts, exhibitions and debates that characterize the even.

It's point of interest is how to wreck President Emmanuel Macron's labour reform projects described by l'Humanité as a social reversal of hard-won social gains., how to re-unite the union s and dispersed political forces, what to do to avoid the pits in which the hopes of change have been stuck.

According to l'Huma, such are some of the reasons why La Fête de l'Humanité now stands out as a boon for good-thinking people unhappy with the current trend taken by politics and willing to rise against it.

According to the publication, La Fête de l'Humanité is the breeding ground for any fighting spirit or sense of solidarity still available and a precious place for the cross-examination of the dangers posed by the XXL labour law tabled by the Macron government.

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