Quantcast
Food

French Court Finds Monsanto Guilty of Chemical Poisoning

An appeals court in Lyon, France has upheld a 2012 ruling against Monsanto, in which the agribusiness giant was found guilty of the chemical poisoning of a farmer named Paul François.

The grain grower said that in 2004 he became ill due to Monsanto’s weedkiller, Lasso. François claimed he suffered from neurological problems, memory loss, headaches and stammering after inadvertently inhaling the herbicide.

In François' case, doctors determined the cause of his ill health was monochlorobenzene, a highly toxic substance that made up 50 percent of Monsanto's herbicide, according to teleSUR. The substance sent François to the hospital, where he entered in a coma. Subsequent tests showed that the farmer suffered permanent brain disease, teleSUR reported.

In 2012, he filed suit against Monsanto for not providing a warning on the product label and won. Monsanto appealed the decision shortly after.

Yesterday's ruling, however, stamps another victory for the farmer. The appeals court said Monsanto was "responsible" for the intoxication and ordered the company to "fully compensate" François, Reuters reported.

"It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (pesticide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning," François Lafforgue, François' lawyer, told the news agency.

RT reported that the farmer (pictured above in 2011) was happy with the outcome, adding: “David can win against Goliath. ... And a giant like Monsanto is not above the law.”

Monsanto's lawyer Jean-Daniel Bretzner said the company plans to take the case to France's highest appeal court.

“The decision is very surprising given the inaccuracies and errors that dot Paul François' evidence,” Bretzner said. “But this is just another step and the discussion is going to go on and the fight will go on.”

Read page 1

According to Reuters, Bretzner also said that the potential compensation for the farmer would be decided after the highest court makes a decision. Nonetheless, he said, the award amount would be very low.

"We are speaking about modest sums of money or even nonexistent. He already received indemnities (by insurers) and there is a fundamental rule that says that one does not compensate twice for a loss, if any," Bretzner said.

Lasso, the herbicide in question, was banned in France as well as in all other European Union member countries in 2007. The product has been phased out in the U.S.

However, another active ingredient in Lasso, alachlor, is still the second most widely used herbicide in the country, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It so happens that the odorless, white chemical is heavily used on corn and soybeans in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Its rampant use is confounding, as even the EPA says alachor "has the potential to cause damage to the liver, kidney, spleen, nasal mucosa and eye from long-term exposure." The agency also considers it an endocrine distruptor and a carcinogen.

Lasso is not the only Monsanto product considered harmful. In March, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm—the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—listed glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's wildly popular weedkiller Roundup, as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Monsanto maintains the safety of their products and has also demanded a retraction from the IARC.

In related news, just this week, California’s Environmental Protection Agency issued plans to label glyphosate as known to cause cancer, the first state in the country to do so.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

This Law Would Make It Illegal for Any State to Mandate GMO Labeling

California Becomes First State to Label Monsanto’s Roundup as a Carcinogen

5 Next Steps in the Big Food Fight

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Science
A foldable, biodegradable battery based on paper and bacteria. Seokheun Choi / Binghamton University, CC BY-ND

Could Paper Power the Next Generation of Devices?

By Seokheun Choi

It seems like every few months there's a new cellphone, laptop or tablet that is so exciting people line up around the block to get their hands on it. While the perpetual introduction of new, slightly more advanced electronics has made businesses like Apple hugely successful, the short shelf life of these electronics is bad for the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Blue Point Brewing Company

Long Island Brewer Launches 'Good Reef Ale' to Help Restore New York’s Oyster Reefs

Between the 1600s and the early 20th century, European settlers in New York City ate their way through 220,000 acres of oyster reefs covering 350 square miles, The Washington Post reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
California restaurants will only be able to serve plastic straws like these upon request. Horia Varlan / CC BY 2.0

California Becomes First State to Regulate Plastic Straws

California became the first state in the U.S. to ban plastic straws in dine-in restaurants Thursday when Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to that effect, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The law, which will enter into force Jan. 1, prohibits restaurants from providing straws unless a customer requests one. It covers only sit-down eateries, not fast food restaurants, delis or coffee shops.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Giannis Giannakopoulos / YouTube

'Partying' Spiders Blanket Greek Beach on 1,000-Foot Cobweb

Arachnophobes beware. A shoreline by the Greek town of Aitoliko has been swamped by a mass of mating spiders and 1,000 feet of their cobwebs.

Earlier this week, a local named Giannis Giannakopoulos uploaded a YouTube video and posted several pictures of the spectacle on his Facebook page, showing shrubs, palm fronds and other greenery completely veiled by spider webs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Frank Straub / EyeEm / Getty Images

Greenpeace Report: Europe Has 10 Years Left to Ditch Fossil Fuel Cars

Europe must phase out the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars by 2028 if it wants to live up to its Paris climate agreement emissions-reduction pledges, according to new research by Germany's Aerospace Center.

Even conventional hybrid cars, which feature gasoline-powered engines, would have to disappear by the mid-2030s if Europe intends to fulfill its part of the Paris deal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to the Greenpeace-commissioned study.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An ambulance crashed into a fallen tree from Storm Ali in Newcastle on Sept. 19. Owen Humphreys / PA Images via Getty Images

100 mph Winds Kill Two in First Named Storm to Hit UK and Ireland This Season

Storm Ali, the first named storm of the UK storm season, killed two and sent several to the hospital as winds of more than 100 miles per hour walloped Ireland, Scotland and Northern England Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

More than 250,000 homes and businesses in Ireland lost power and 30,000 lost power in southwest Scotland.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Oceans
Hawaii, Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina) with surface reflections. Robinson Ed / Perspectives / Getty Images

Hawaii's Cauliflower Coral Moves Toward Endangered Species Act Listing

Cauliflower coral, a bushy species in the Hawaiian Islands that has been devastated by ocean warming triggered by human-caused climate change, could soon get federal protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service Wednesday announced that listing the species may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act, based on a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
David Speier / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Journalist Dies in Clash Over Dirty Coal in Germany

By Andy Rowell

Over the last week, the German Police have deployed thousands of officers, backed up by water cannons and armored vehicles, to evict hundreds of climate activists trying to defend the last remnants of an ancient forest in Germany from being destroyed by RWE, which wants to expand the biggest open coal mine in Europe.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!