Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Justice proves a farmer right for the third time against Monsanto / Bayer

The farmer Paul François won Thursday in Lyon a new legal battle in the long fight he is waging against the American firm Monsanto, a subsidiary of the German group Bayer, since his poisoning in 2004 by the weedkiller Lasso, subsequently banned.

“Monsanto has been found responsible for the damage caused to Paul François”, the court announced. The Charente farmer had already won his case at first instance in 2012 and on appeal in 2015, but Monsanto appealed to the cassation before the case was re-examined in the court of appeal on February 6.

This time, the Court of Appeal indicated that it had established this new judgment on the basis of “liability for defective products”, as claimed by the Court of Cassation.

“Specific danger”

In its judgment, of which AFP has obtained a copy, the Court of Appeal accuses Monsanto “of not having on the labeling and / or packaging of the product affixed a statement on the specific dangerousness of work in tanks and tanks “.

During the hearing in February, the defenders of Monsanto had pointed out the “negligence” of the farmer this day of April 2004 when opening a tank after a spraying he had inhaled vapors of Lasso. According to them, Mr. François knew “very well” that they were “dangerous products”.

“The technical knowledge of the latter (Paul François), supposing it to be proven, could not compensate for the lack of information on the product and its harmful effects, a farmer not being a chemist”, replied the judges Thursday.

As expected, the court did not rule on possible damages of “more than one million euros” claimed by Mr. François, which will be the subject of a separate procedure before the TGI of Lyon, but ordered Monsanto to pay 50,000 euros in legal fees to the plaintiff.

Monsanto’s lawyer, Jean-Daniel Bretzner, regretted this judgment in front of the press, saying that it “engages the responsibility of the producer, or Monsanto France has never produced anything. The producer is the company Monsanto Europe (. ..) a third party company in this procedure “, but the judges considered that Monsanto can be considered as” assimilated to the producer “, since Monsanto France, which marketed the Lasso, affixed” on the product its name, its brand “.

The fight goes on

His poorly recognized as an occupational disease, Paul François has been engaged since 2007 in a long-term legal battle against the American giant, a subsidiary of the German Bayer since 2018. A fight that does not yet seem close to being over.

“Monsanto reserves the right to appeal in cassation, it is probably the step which will come”, already announced the lawyer of the company.

“Playing the clock, using all possible remedies, is a strategy systematically used by the Monsanto firm. Paul François therefore asks that (the issue of compensation) be raised as quickly as possible, so that it can be put end of this procedure “, reacted Thursday in a statement the association Phyto-victims, of which Mr. François is president and founder.

Since its creation, the association claims to have identified “more than 400 files” of professionals, mainly from the agricultural sector, victims of pesticides.

After his accident in 2004 with Monsanto’s herbicide, Mr. François had suffered several illnesses and was hospitalized for a long time. He claims to suffer from serious neurological disorders.

From 2015, the cereal producer converted the 200 hectares of his farm to organic, which generate “profitability”. He was able to maintain a job and “also resumed (his) freedom as a farmer”.

The Lasso has been banned in France since November 2007, but it was banned from Canada in 1985, then in 1992 in Belgium and the United Kingdom.

(With AFP)