Bio-tech firm guilty of poisoning farmer
IN a landmark ruling for global efforts to curb the use of chemicals in agriculture, the US bio-tech firm Monsanto has been found guilty of "poisoning" a French farmer.
A court in Lyon decided the agro-business multinational had ruined the health of Paul Francois (47) a cereal farmer from western France who accidentally inhaled fumes from its Lasso weedkiller in 2004.
Monsanto, a dominant player in the global agriculture industry, now faces a multi-million euro compensation ruling later this year. The company, which claimed the farmer ignored safety procedures, says it will appeal.
The judgment, following a long, legal struggle by Mr Francois, was hailed as a landmark breakthrough by campaigners against chemical pesticides and herbicides. "It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (herbicide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning," Mr Francois' lawyer, Maitre Francois Lafforgue, said.
Lasso, first used in the 1960s to suppress weeds in cereal fields, has been banned in Canada and the UK since the 1980s, and in France in 2007.
The multi-national plans to appeal. "Monsanto always considered that there were not sufficient elements to establish a causal relationship between Paul Francois' symptoms and a potential poisoning," its lawyer, Jean-Philippe Delsart, said. (© Independent News Service)