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Monsanto guilty in pesticide case

Lawyer and farmer hail "historic decision" as court links weedkiller with neurological problems

AMERICAN chemicals and biotech giant Monsanto has been found guilty of poisoning a farmer who inhaled weedkiller - and could now face a barrage of claims from other affected farmers.

The company said it would appeal after a court in Lyon ruled that neurological problems suffered by Charentes farmer Paul François were linked to his use of the chemical Lasso. The court has ordered a financial report to fix damages.

François, 47, said he was left with neurological problems after inhaling Lasso in 2004 while cleaning out the tank of his crop sprayer. He suffers headaches, memory loss and stammering and linked it with Lasso after tests on blood, urine and hair samples uncovered traces of chlorobenzene.

The Bernac cereal farmer says there was no mention of chlorobenzene on the weedkiller label and he has been left with a 50% disability.

He added the ruling was "one in the eye" for the petrochemical industry "which thought itself above the law".

His lawyer added it was a "historic decision" although the Monsanto lawyer said there was not enough evidence linking Lasso and François's symptoms.

Other farmers have lodged claims after suffering problems they say are due to chemical usage and the Mutualité Sociale Agricole, the farming social security body, said it had received 2,700 claims, running at 200 a year.

Photo: Tyler Olson -

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