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Judgement against Monsanto marks 'end of arrogance', says French environment minister

AFP, Robyn Beck | Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup are seen for sale June 19, 2018 at a retail store in Glendale, California.
3 min

French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said Sunday he hoped the verdict against Monsanto for failing to inform the public about the risks of its product would put an end to political indifference to the danger of pesticides.


France's environment minister made his remarks after the agrochemical giant was ordered by a Californian court to pay nearly $290 million for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, that the Monsanto product Roundup might cause cancer.

Speaking in French newspaper Libération on Sunday, Hulot said that the judgment against Monsanto "corrects the indifference of politicians".

“This decision confirms what many whistleblowers have been saying for so many years about the dangerousness of glyphosate weedkiller.”

“This is the end of arrogance for Bayer and Monsanto. But it (this verdict) can never repair what this American gardener has irreversibly suffered. This is also true for Paul François [a Charentais cereal farmer who has been fighting Monsanto since 2007 after he was seriously poisoned by the Monsanto herbicide Lasso],” said Hulot. “Nothing will repair the pain and loneliness of these victims. It really is the weak fighting against the strong.

“Let us never forget that Monsanto dragged American farmers to court who were inadvertently growing plants patented by the group, simply because the wind had spread them in their fields. Nor will this decision help the hundreds of Indian farmers who have found themselves in psychological and economic distress because of Monsanto.”

Monsanto’s parent company, the German pharmaceutical group Bayer, experienced its biggest one-day fall in more than nine years on the European stock market. It was down 10.4 percent after Monsanto, the U.S. agriculture giant it acquired in June, was ordered to pay damages in the lawsuit.

Following the verdict, Bayer insisted on Saturday that the weed killer Roundup was "safe” and that the California ruling went against the evidence.

"On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer," the company said in a statement.

It said other court proceedings with other juries might "arrive at different conclusions" than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, the first to accuse glyphosate of causing cancer.

Jurors unanimously found that Monsanto -- which vowed to appeal -- acted with "malice" and that its weedkillers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Johnson's terminal illness.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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