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Published:  23 July, 2008

Around 20,000 French winegrowers took to the streets last week to protest at the French government's role in the wine industry's crisis'. Bordeaux saw the largest turn-out, with more than 8,000 demonstrators, as well as 5,000 in Avignon, 3,000 in Mcon, and several hundred each in Angers, Tours, Nantes and Blois. The main focus of the demonstrators' wrath was the French Health Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, whose policies are seen as a major contribution to falling domestic sales. Speakers at a rally in Bordeaux also criticised President Jacques Chirac for refusing to take wine with him on his recent diplomatic visit to China, and called for more financial help from the government. Agriculture minister Dominique Bussereau replied that he would meet with representatives of the industry on 14 December to formulate an action plan.