Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters attended a demonstration against the chemical company Monsanto in 2016 in France. On Thursday, a French court found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a farmer. (Photo: Pascal.Van/Flickr/cc)

'Huge Victory': French Court Finds Monsanto Guilty of Poisoning Farmer

"Monsanto needs to realize that we are not going to be silent anymore. We are not going to roll over and play dead."

Julia Conley

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 François €50,000 ($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. François is seeking €1 million ($860,000).

François 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," François 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."

François 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 François 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. François 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.

François'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.

'Intentional Vandalism' Leaves Thousands Without Power in North Carolina

One right-wing extremist implied that multiple electrical substations were targeted to disrupt a drag show in Moore County. Local law enforcement authorities and the FBI are investigating.

Kenny Stancil ·


GOP Silence on Trump's Call to Axe Constitution Reveals 'Full Embrace of Fascism': House Dem

"Last week the leader of the Republican Party had dinner with a Nazi leader and a man who called Adolf Hitler 'great,'" said Rep. Bill Pascrell. "Yesterday Trump called for throwing out the Constitution and making himself dictator."

Kenny Stancil ·


Protesting Fuel Poverty, People Tell UK Government to 'Keep Everyone Warm This Winter'

As energy bills—and fossil fuel profits—continue to soar, demonstrators around Britain demanded immediate action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of Parliament.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Turn Off the Tap on Plastic,' UN Chief Declares Amid Debate Over New Global Treaty

"Plastics are fossil fuels in another form," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, "and pose a serious threat to human rights, the climate, and biodiversity."

Kenny Stancil ·


EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo