Apr 12, 2019
Monsanto was ordered to pay restitution to a French farmer who developed a neurological disease after using its weedkiller--the latest victory for the chemical giant's former customers who want to hold the company accountable for selling poisonous pesticides.
A court in Lyon, France, ordered Monsanto Thursday to immediately pay Paul Francois EUR50,000 ($56,000) for the legal fees he incurred as he fought the company, and said the full amount it would be required to pay him would be announced in an upcoming ruling. Francois is seeking EUR1 million ($860,000).
Francois expressed relief at the news of his victory, which came 15 years after he first became ill and 12 years after he took action against Monsanto.
"It's a huge sigh of relief. It's been a 12-year battle," Francois told reporters. "Twelve years where my life had to be put on hold and my family had to suffer because they were subjected to this battle."
\u201cFrench farmer Paul Fran\u00e7ois speaks of his relief after winning a 12-year battle against US chemicals giant #Monsanto. \n\nAn appeals court found the company guilty of poisoning him, after he accidentally inhaled fumes from one of their weedkillers.\u201d— DW Europe (@DW Europe) 1555063467
Francois began experiencing memory loss, headaches, and fainting in 2004 after accidentally inhaling the Monsanto-made weedkiller Lasso, which contained the chemical monochlorobenzene. Three years later, France made monochlorobenzene illegal and pulled Lasso from the market.
Monochlorobenzene had already been outlawed in Canada, Belgium, and the U.K. years earlier, and Francois argued in his lawsuit that Monsanto knew long before Lasso was pulled from the French market that it was dangerous.
The court ruled that Monsanto should have included a warning on Lasso's label.
"Mr. Francois justifiably concludes that the product, due to its inadequate labeling that did not respect applicable regulations, did not offer the level of safety he could legitimately expect," the court said.
On social media, public health advocates praised the decision.
\u201cVictory \ud83c\udf3f Monsanto weedkiller has been recognised guilty for causing cereal farmer Paul Fran\u00e7ois' neurological damage as product lacked warning label.\n@WHO @amisdelaterre @greenpeacefr @SumOfUs_Fr \nhttps://t.co/hRdMnpZPJp\u201d— Greenhouse Communications (@Greenhouse Communications) 1555060260
\u201cJUST IN: A French court has ruled to hold #Monsanto legally accountable for harming the health of Paul Fran\u00e7ois, a farmer. A huge victory for all victims of pesticides!\n\n\u27a1\ufe0f Read Paul's (@PhytoVictimes) story: https://t.co/Pt2SSUs1MQ\u201d— Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) (@Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)) 1554991680
Francois's victory comes after he won previous lawsuits against the company in 2012 and 2015, only to have those decisions appealed. The company said Thursday it expected to appeal the latest ruling.
Monsanto faces thousands of lawsuits from people all over the world who say its use of other dangerous chemicals, including the carcinogenic pesticide glyphosate, caused them to develop health problems.
"I don't see how [Monsanto] can win," one plaintiff told the Guardian this week in a report about the pending lawsuits. "The world is against them."
Last year, a court in San Francisco delivered the first legal victory against Monsanto regarding its use of dangerous chemicals. The court ordered the company to pay Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper, $80 million after he developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after years of using the weedkiller Roundup, which contains glyphosate.
"Monsanto needs to realize that we are not going to be silent anymore," John Barton, a farmer who also developed non-Hodgkins lymphona and who is part of another lawsuit in California, told the Guardian. "We are not going to roll over and play dead... People should be warned that this stuff is everywhere and we should be careful of this product."
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.