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Monsanto to Appeal French Ruling on Farmer’s Pesticide Poisoning

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed company, will appeal a French civil court ruling that found it’s responsible for the poisoning of a farmer who inhaled a pesticide made by the company.

The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Lyon yesterday said Monsanto carried blame for the poisoning of Paul Francois, his lawyer Francois Lafforgue said by phone today. Francois suffered neurological problems after inhaling the St. Louis-based company’s Lasso in an accident in 2004, the lawyer said.

Monsanto is “disappointed” with the decision and plans to appeal, spokesman Mark Buckingham said in an e-mailed reply to questions. The ruling is the first of its kind in France, according to Lafforgue.

“Our analysis of this case is that there is no demonstration of the causal link between Lasso and the symptoms reported by Mr. Francois,” Buckingham said. “We do not agree any injury was accidentally caused, nor did the company intentionally permit injury.”

The court has asked for an expert assessment of damages to be paid to Francois for medical costs, economic consequences and his suffering, according to Lafforgue. It found that Monsanto gave insufficient safety and usage instructions on the weed killer’s packaging, he said.

“Monsanto products comply with safety standards in place at the time of marketing and are supported by guidance for their responsible and safe use,” Buckingham said. “Lasso was clearly labeled to contain monochlorobenzene, a common solvent. Monsanto would not have used monochlorobenzene as a solvent in Lasso if it had not met all regulatory requirements.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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