Monsanto to appeal against French herbicide poisoning judgement

AFP / Jean-Philippe Ksiazek

Biotechnology giant Monsanto says it will appeal a decision by a French court in the southeastern city of Lyon on Monday which found the company legally responsible for the poisoning of a farmer with one of its herbicides in 2004. 


Grain farmer Paul François, 47, inhaled the powerful weed killer Lasso when he opened up a sprayer in 2004. He became nauseated, began stuttering and suffered dizziness, headaches and muscular aches, rendering him unable to work for a year.

Yann Fichet, head of company relations for Monsanto France, said the company’s herbicides were dangerous, but stressed labels on the products gave sufficient warning to consumers. He claimed there was no proof that Lasso was the cause of François’ problems.

“Monsanto will appeal this decision…a thorough analysis of the case does not, in our opinion, give sufficient evidence for a causal link between the use of the herbicide and the symptoms described by François.”

François’ lawyer argued the company failed to say what its product contained on the label or warn of the risks of inhalation or advise the user to wear a mask. Monsanto was also accused of keeping Lasso on the French market until 2007 despite bans of the product in Canada, Britain and Belgium.

Generations Futures, which lobbies against the massive use of pesticides, hailed Monday’s ruling.

"The recognition of Monsanto's responsibility in this matter is essential: plant care companies know that from now on they can no longer shirk their responsibilities," said spokesman François Veillerette.

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