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Monsanto liable for French farmer's ill health



 Paul Francois Image copyright
Reuters

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Paul Francois says he fell ill after ingestion Lasso, Monsanto's weedkiller product
                

US biotech giant Monsanto is legally responsible for the ill health of a farmer who ingested its weedkiller product, a French court has ruled.

A French court of law ruled in favor of 55-year-old Paul Francois, who has fought a decade-long legal battle against the firm.

He fell ill after inhaling vapor from Lasso, a now banned herbicide, in 2004. Francois blames Monsanto, accusing it of not giving sufficient safety warnings.

Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical company that acquired Monsanto in 201

8, confirmed Thursday's ruling and said it was considering its legal options, including an appeal. .

A spokeswoman told the BBC: "We are currently reviewing the decision of the court."

Previous rulings in 2012 and 2015 found Monsanto legally responsible for the poisoning of Mr Francois.

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Getty Images Image caption

Paul Francois is a press conference to announce the court's verdict
                

In 2017, those judgments were overturned by France's top court, which ordered a new hearing.

Now, having won appeal against that decision, Mr Francois's case will now be heard by another court in the south-eastern city of Lyon, Reuters news agency reports.

Last month, France 24 reported that Mr Francois was seeking more than € 1m (£ 764,000) in damages from Monsanto. The latest ruling made no judgment on compensation.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Bayer AG told the BBC it was "committed to a fair understanding of each personal case" but suggested Mr Francois's case was an "exception".

"Plant protection products are among the products whose evaluation and authorization are the most strictly regulated in the world. They are safe when used as directed," the spokeswoman added.

What happened to Mr Francois?

Mr Francois claims he has suffered memory loss, headaches and tribulation after accidentally inhaling the Lasso.

As a result, Mr Francois, a cereal farmer from the Charente region in south-west France, had to stop work. Medical tests found the hazardous chemical chlorobenzene in his body.
Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Paul Francois speaks at the press as he arrives at the Lyon appeal court
                

The initial ruling was described as a "historic decision" by his lawyer Francois Lafforgue, who said it was the first time a herbicide maker was "found guilty of such a poisoning".

Lasso has been banned in France since 2007 and had already been withdrawn in other countries prior to that.

The ruling in the French case comes as Monsanto faces lawsuits in the United States on alleged cancer links to its glyphosate-based weedkillers.


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