Guillaume Delpierre is a minister who has vowed to defend public interests over financial and industrial ones, and must constantly deal with both internal and external struggles in the ministry. Claire Lancel is a journalist for a prestigious daily newspaper whose investigations uncover an important health scandal. Meanwhile, the formidable Bowman must redouble his efforts in order to foil the actions of the minister and come to terms with Claire’s discoveries. This new season of “The Inside Game” dives once again into the chilling world of lobbying.
A year after the victory of the decree banning certain toxic pesticides in agriculture, the situation has worsened in defiance of the law. In northern France, during a school visit to the grain silos of the Vitalia cooperative, a virtual monopoly in the region, pupils fainted. Guillaume Delpierre, now Minister of Agriculture, is attacked by activists from the environmental group Jeunesse 2050, who denounce the Synea union’s stranglehold on agricultural policy. Journalist Claire Lansel, who now works for Le Quotidien, a national newspaper, is alerted to Vitalia’s practices by Chloé Forrest. Chloé, a rising figure in the Jeunesse 2050 movement, still refuses to believe in the suicide of her father, a former executive with the chemical multinational Saskia, of which Vitalia is a subsidiary. The cooperative recalls, without explanation, grain deliveries that may have poisoned cattle, as Claire observes at a farmer’s, who tries to evade questions about his sick cows.
Members of Saskia’s lobbying firm come to the cooperative’s head office to lock down communication following the recall of the toxic cereals, and attack the carrier who has delivered a stock of them, because they’ve seen him talking to Claire. The man suffers from red patches on his arms, night sweats and itching. Lobbyist Mathieu Bowman, who had once hired her, doesn’t hesitate to threaten the journalist with reprisals against her professional and personal life. Ludovic, the son of the farmer with the sick cows, introduces Claire to a breeder friend who is determined to talk. A pregnant mother who had accompanied the visit to the wheat silos collapses as she too is about to meet Claire. Thanks to his standing in the polls, Guillaume Delpierre is invited by the Prime Minister to join the exclusive circle of “Tuesday breakfasts” at Matignon.
At a farmers’ demonstration, Guillaume Delpierre wins support with an offensive speech delivered in front of the cameras. While the Vitalia transporter is diagnosed with a serious occupational disease caused by overexposure to chemicals, Claire meets a former Vitalia technical director who has been dismissed by the company. He filmed the spraying of worm-ridden grain with a pesticide dose thirty times higher than the norm inside a silo, and declares that the cooperative’s management, as well as the local chamber of agriculture, had been informed of the problem. Delpierre, for his part, is trying to limit the presence of the Synea union in representative bodies. Claire gathers testimonies from women who have been fighting for ten years to have the regional health agency recognize that their children, all severely ill and born in the same year in the vicinity of the cooperative, were poisoned.
In the course of her research, she came across a shed that may have housed stocks of pesticides, which may also have poisoned the water table through runoff. Guillaume Delpierre, who was initially reprimanded by the Prime Minister in a private meeting, was then half-heartedly disavowed by him at a meeting with union representatives. Chloe Forrest contacts Claire again to ask for her help in bringing down Bowman and his associates for the murder of her father. But the journalist refuses to cooperate with her plan, as it seems both too dangerous and outside the bounds of legality.
The number of sick infants in the region continues to grow, and the mothers form an association to bring the battle to justice. After the publication of the first part of Claire’s investigation, the Prime Minister invites Bowman and the director of Vitalia to a crisis meeting, to the amazement of Guillaume Delpierre. Meanwhile, with the help of a supermarket employee, Claire finds three tins of powdered milk sold at the same time as a second cluster of sick babies. Traces of Devontotal, a pesticide banned since 1997, were found, as well as fungicides likely to cause neurological diseases. Under false identities, Jeunesse 2050 activists make contact with a call-girl, a former accomplice of the Saskia team.
Claire Lansel meets Minister Guillaume Delpierre to ask him to refer the matter of the contaminated milk to the Direction Générale de l’Alimentation, thereby lifting the industrial secrecy. The evidence against Vitalia is mounting, thanks to the transporter’s notebooks, which keep track of the comings and goings of prohibited products. By cross-checking this information with the testimonies of farmers and parents of sick children, the journalist was finally able to complete her investigation. At Matignon, the Prime Minister offers Guillaume Delpierre the post of Minister of State, with the promise of a clear gain in influence. At the same time, the Mothers’ Association lodged a complaint against Vitalia and its parent company, the multinational Saskia, as well as against the government.
In coproduction with ARTE France and PICTANOVO
Distributed by Newen