France's annual 'Telethon' fund-raiser for muscular dystrophy research makes "too much money", according to the head of a French Aids charity.
The president of a French Aids charity has sparked a row after accusing an annual Telethon fund raising event of being "parasitic" and abusing the generosity of the French people.
Pierre Bergé, an industralist and patron of the arts who heads Sidaction (Aids is Sida in French), told France Info over the weekend the Telethon, which takes place at the beginning of December to raise funds for research into muscular dystrophy, raises "too much money".
None of the money goes to Aids research.
By showing emotive pictures of children with severe muscular disorders, Bergé said muscular distrophy charity AFM, which runs the fund-raiser, was being "a populist parasite of the generosity of the French people."
“The organisers of Telethon make too much money," he added. "They use the cash to invest in property."
Last year Telethon raised more than 100 million euros.
Laurence Tiennot-Herment, president of AFM (l'Association française contre les myopathies), hit back at Bergé's comments.
"AFM is not a property-investor, plain and simple," she said. "We do use some of the money raised to acquire property, but that's totally in line with our mission, which is to cure illnesses and help relieve people's suffering."
Tiennot-Herment cited the example of three apartments built near the French city of Angers - used as "places of respite for families" - and the construction of a building dedicated to research and manufacture of medicines and therapies for rare neuromuscular disorders.
French Research Minister Valérie Pécresse weighed in to the debate on Sunday, defending AFM and Telethon, while being careful to stress the importance of Aids research.
"Associations [such as AFM] can and do nurture French research efforts," she insisted.
Telethon is broadcast by the France Television public channels, and has been organised and run by AFM since 1987.
Date created : 2009-11-23