French Court, Monsanto Guilty Of Chemical Poisoning

French cereal farmer Paul Francois leaves Lyon courthouse December 12, 2011. |  Reuters/Robert Pratta

French cereal farmer Paul Francois leaves Lyon courthouse December 12, 2011. | Reuters/Robert Pratta

On Thursday, a French court upheld a 2012 ruling that found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning of a French farmer who had suffered neurological damage after inhaling the company’s “Lasso” weedkiller.

The decision by an Appeal Court in Lyon, France is expected to be taken to France’s highest Appeal Court, according to lawyers for the U.S. company.

The Appeal Court in Southeast France confirmed the initial judgement made in 2012, the first such case to be heard in France, that handed down a ruling that Monsanto was “responsible’ for the accidental inhalation, ordering the company to “fully compensate” grain grower Paul Francois, according to Reuters.

Francois blames Monsanto for the memory loss and stammering speech he developed from inhaling the company’s “Lasso” weedkiller in 2004, saying Monsanto did not provide adequate warnings on the product label.

Lasso is a “pre-emergent” herbicide that is applied to the soil, and has been in use since the 1960s to control grasses and broadleaf plants in farm fields. France banned the use of lasso in 2007 after the product had already been banned in other European Union countries.

A spokesman for Monsanto in France was quoted by Fox news as saying the herbicide was phased out in the United States several years ago, but for commercial reasons. Lasso was once a very popular herbicide but gradually lost its popularity. Studies have also shown its active ingredient to be linked to a number of health problems.

After this latest ruling, Monsanto issued a statement saying that experts, including those nominated by the French civil court, had not found any link between the accidental exposure and the “alleged damages” for which Francois seeks compensation.

Monsanto lawyer Jean-Daniel Bretzner said that a possible compensation for the farmer’s loss would be decided after the decision of the highest court, but it 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,” Jean-Daniel Bretzner said.

Monsanto has other herbicides accused of being harmful. Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup has been in the news quite often. In March this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), released a study that showed Monsanto’s Roundup was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Karen Graham, originally posted at Digital Journal