1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

French farmer wins legal battle against Monsanto

October 22, 2020

Paul Francois had been seeking damages from Monsanto, now a subsidiary of Germany's Bayer, after a 2004 accident with one of its weedkillers. His lawyers argued the firm had failed to give a proper warning of the danger.

A farmer sprays pesticides over his crops
Image: picture-alliance/SvenSimon

A subsidiary of German chemical giant Bayer lost a legal battle on Wednesday after a French farmer argued one of its weedkillers seriously damaged his health. Paul François said he accidentally inhaled fumes from a Monsanto product known as Lasso, which led to neurological problems. The former US company is now owned by Germany's Bayer.

Lawyers for Francois argued the firm, which also makes the Round-Up weedkiller, failed to provide sufficient safety instructions.

The farmer said he has suffered from memory loss, headaches and fainting since he first used the product in 2004. He was hospitalized several times and doctors said he nearly died.

The Wednesday ruling could open the way for Paul Francois to receive compensation. His legal team have been seeking more than one million euros in damages since 2007.

Read more: Will Bayer Roundup settlement end its Monsanto nightmare?

A 'historic decision'

Monsanto's parent company, Bayer, said it is reviewing the decision. The firm said its weedkiller products "do not present a risk to human health" if used correctly.

French anti-pesticide group Generations Futures welcomed "this historic decision."

"An agro-chemical multinational is at last found liable for the harm caused to this courageous farmer," it said in a statement.

German chemicals giant Bayer acquired Monsanto for 53 billion euros ($63 billion) in 2018. It has been facing several lawsuits in the United States over allegations that Monsanto's glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup causes cancer.

Bayer, which argues Roundup is safe, is trying to settle the litigation through a proposed €9 billion ($11 billion) payment.

jf/dj (AFP, Reuters)