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The Court of Appeal in Lyon has ruled to hold Monsanto legally accountable for severely harming the health of Paul François, a grain farmer from France’s Charente region. Health actors are welcoming this historic win, a legal precedent in France, as a victory for all victims of pesticides [1].

Paul François has been seeking recognition for his suffering for over a decade, after inhaling vapors of the Monsanto herbicide Lasso in 2004. Having subsequently suffered from repeated comas, fainting, signs of neurological disorders and hospitalisation for months at a time, he first filed a legal complaint and demand for compensation against the firm in 2007.

Today’s trial was the fourth episode in the farmer’s long quest for justice. Initially found guilty of intoxicating Paul François in 2012 and again on appeal in 2015, Monsanto then appealed the case. The French Supreme Court, in charge of this appeal, overturned the latter judgment by challenging its legal foundation and referred the case back to the Court of Appeal of Lyon. Today, the Court of Appeal of Lyon ruled in favour of Paul François, holding Monsanto legally responsible for his hardships.

Today’s judgement is a major milestone in the recognition of the suffering of victims of pesticides,” comments Génon K. Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “We will remain to stand strong alongside Paul François and all workers and farmers and their families suffering from exposure to pesticides.”

General awareness, concern and research on the negative health effects of pesticides has significantly increased over the past few years, but there is still a need for health professionals and institutions to recognise their medical impacts. This will help pesticide victims to seek access to justice and compensation, and to receive informed and adequate medical care from their doctors.

HEAL has been accompanying Paul François and other victims of pesticides in their fight for justice, by supporting the work of the French civil society platforms associations PhytoVictims and Générations Futures, Pesticide Action Network Europe’s Voices of Pesticides and through our membership in the Justice Pesticides network [2].

Contact:

Maître François Lafforgue, legal representative of Paul François – tel.: 0033 (0)1 44 32 08 20

Yannick Vicaire, Chemicals and Health Policy Campaigner at HEAL, yannick@env-health.org, tel.: +32 (0)2 234 36 40.

Notes to editor:

[1] A copy of today’s court ruling is available upon request. This document also contains an overview of previous rulings from 2015 and 2015.

[2] HEAL works closely together with PhytoVictims, Génerations Futures, and Pesticide Action Network Europe as organisations being a part of its membership base. HEAL is also a member of Justice Pesticides, a civil society network meant to supply victims of pesticides with all legal cases involving pesticides in the world.