A court in France has found GMO giant Monsanto guilty of poisoning a French farmer through the use of of one of their controversial herbicides.
The court of appeals has vindicated French farmer Paul Francois who claimed that he suffered headaches, memory loss, and various neurological problems after mistakingly inhaling Monsanto’s herbicide Lasso.
François used Lasso for over 15 years, and in 2004 accidentally inhaled the product. After the incident, the farmer began getting severe headaches and experienced moments of mental absence and an inability to speak.
The chemical’s effects on François were so severe that he fainted, was hospitalized and fell into a coma. François was diagnosed with monochlorobenzene poisoning by his doctors, who found that the chemical permanently damaged his brain. Monochlorobenzene makes up 50% of the herbicide Lasso.
It is worth noting that the herbicide was prohibited in France and the rest of the European Union in 2007, and at the time of the incident, it was already banned in Canada (since 1985), Great Britain and Belgium (since 1992).
During the court hearing, Monsanto’s attorneys repeatedly claimed that the herbicide Lasso was not dangerous. François claimed that the company was aware of the toxic nature of the herbicide but failed to adequately warn about the potential health risks.
The Appeals Court in Lyon upheld the original 2012 decision and ruled that the biotech giant, notorious for what some believe is a toxic combination of GMOs and Roundup herbicide, was “responsible” for the poisoning and must “fully compensate” François for damaging his health. Monsanto has stated that it will appeal the ruling at the French Supreme Court.
Monsanto attorney Jean-Daniel Bretzner, made a statement regarding François potential compensation, should the ruling be upheld by the highest court:
“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.” (Source:Reuters)
Yet, regardless of the fine, François’ win against Monsanto would set an important precedent for others who suffer from ailments due to herbicide and pesticide exposure.
“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 (Source: Reuters)
This case could be a significant game changer for Monsanto, who sells many potentially-dangerous chemical products, many of which are used on food crops. For example, another common ingredient in Monsanto’s products is alachlor, which “has the potential to cause damage to the liver, kidney, spleen, nasal mucosa and eye from long-term exposure,” as stated by the EPA. Monsanto is also well-known for its glyphosate products such as Roundup. Glyphosate has been identified by the World Health Organization as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a claim that Monsanto is insisting is based on pseudo-science and should be withdrawn.
Below is a news summary of the case from France 24:
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