Manslaughter Charges Filed Against Pesticide Makers and French State - Modern Farmer

Manslaughter Charges Filed Against Pesticide Makers and French State

The family of a winegrower who died of pesticide-related cancer in 2012 filed a case for manslaughter with Paris courts on Monday.

James Bernard Murat, a winegrower in Bordeaux, France, was diagnosed with occupation-related lung cancer in 2010 as a result of 42 years of exposure to the pesticide sodium arsenite.

Before being banned in 2001, sodium arsenite was used for many years on vineyards throughout France to treat the parasitic fungi disease Esca, which was known to devastate grape crops. Murat was exposed from 1958 to 2000.

By 2001, however, sodium arsenite had already been banned for use in agriculture for nearly 30 years. “Sodium arsenite was withdrawn from production in 1973, except for vineyards. Why didn’t the state protect the growers, and waited until 2001 to completely remove the product from the market?” Murat’s daughter Valerie Murat, who filed the manslaughter case, says to French television station Aquitaine.

The danger of sodium arsenite and other pesticides with arsenic has been known since 1955, when a list of related diseases was first drawn up, according to anti-pesticide lobby groups Future Generations and Phyto-Victims.

The case, legally filed against X as per French law, targets the pesticide producers as well as the French state. The three companies that produced this pesticide were Aventis, CMPA, and Littoral, according to prosecution attorney Francois Lafforgue. Lafforgue specializes in cases of pesticide victims. In regard to including the French state in her case, Valerie Murat tells French newspaper Le Parisien, “If the Ministry of Agriculture had done his job, he would have checked and banned the sale of these products.”

The complaint aims to highlight responsible parties and to warn farmers about the connection between pesticides and certain diseases. “I do not want my father to have died for nothing,” says Valerie Murat.

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