Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Bayer considers legal options as French farmer seeks €1m in damages over health problems

French cereal farmer Paul Francois, head of the Phyto-Victims association, attends a news conference, after the verdict in his appeals trial against U.S. Monsanto firm, in Paris, France, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
French cereal farmer Paul Francois, head of the Phyto-Victims association, attends a news conference, after the verdict in his appeals trial against U.S. Monsanto firm, in Paris, France, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Gus Trompiz

German chemical group Bayer said it was considering its legal options, including an appeal, after a French court ruled in favour of a farmer who blamed a weedkiller of Bayer's Monsanto unit for health problems.

Last Thursday's ruling by an appeals court in Lyon in southeast France was the latest stage in a decade-long legal tussle between Monsanto and farmer Paul Francois, who says he fell ill after inhaling weedkiller Lasso in 2004.

Bayer said in a statement that its options included filing an appeal with France's highest court.

Francois, 55, says he suffered neurological problems, including memory loss, fainting and headaches, after accidentally inhaling Lasso in 2004 while working on his farm.

"Mr Francois justifiably concludes that the product, due to its inadaquete labelling that did not respect applicable regulations, did not offer the level of safety he could legitimately expect," the court said in its ruling.

The latest verdict, however, did not determine compensation for the farmer, which will now be considered by another court in Lyon.

Francois is seeking about €1 million in damages.

Mr Francois had won rulings against Monsanto in 2012 and 2015 before France's top court overturned the decisions and ordered the new hearing in Lyon.

Also Read


"We are all happy to have won but it came at a heavy price," Francois told reporters in Paris.

"It's a big sigh of relief. It's been 12 years of fighting, 12 years during which I had to put my whole life on hold."

Lasso was banned in France in 2007 after the product had been withdrawn in some other countries.

It used a different active substance to glyphosate, the chemical contained in Monsanto's best-selling weedkiller Roundup and the target of lawsuits in the United States over alleged cancer links.

The company has been found liable in two trials in California brought by cancer sufferers who have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages. Bayer is appealing against those rulings.

The legal troubles surrounding glyphosate have contributed to Bayer losing about 30 billion euros in market value since last August. The group's chief executive on Thursday said it was "massively affected" by the litigation.

After the announcement of the decision, Bayer's shares extended a fall to trade about 1.5 percent down before recovering some of the losses.

Reuters