On February 13th, a French court ruled in favor of farmer Paul Francois who reportedly developed three separate neurological disorders as a result of inhaling Monsanto’s alachlor-based weed killer called Lasso.
The court declared the St. Louis, MO-based seed and chemical company guilty of chemical poisoning and the cause of Francois’ memory loss, headaches and stammering in the first-ever case of its kind heard against a pesticide manufacturer in French courts.
Lawyers for the multinational company argued that Monsanto’s product was not to blame for Francois’ health conditions since his symptoms reportedly did not arise until months after he was exposed to the herbicide while cleaning his crop sprayer. The alachlor-based pesticide, which Monsanto markets as Lasso, has been banned in France since 2007.
The French social security system’s agricultural branch reports that since 1996, roughly 200 reports have been collected each year related to farmer sickness–potentially origination from pesticide exposure. Francois told Reuters that he’s alive today, but “part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of this.”
Alachlor is classified as a class III herbicide by the EPA and considered “slightly toxic.” Health issues connected with exposure to alachlor include eye and skin irritation, liver, kidney and spleen damage and an increased risk of cancer.
The French ruling in favor of Francois sets a new precedent in health claims launched against pesticide and herbicide manufacturers that could lead to tighter regulations and use restrictions.
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