Glyphosate: With Cancer, Jean-Claude, a French Gardener, goes to War against Monsanto

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The French farmer Jean-Claude Terlet wants to take on Monsanto over cancer

With a cancer, Jean-Claude Terlet, a 70-year-old market gardener based in Aisne, wants to file a complaint against the giant Monsanto for “poisoning”.

With glyphosate in the prostate, Jean-Claude Terlet, a farmer in a village in Aisne, decided to sue for “poisoning” against the US giant Monsanto he considers responsible for his cancer.

Symptoms that affect his work

“It’s a heart of beef, it’s extraordinary,” Jean-Claude Terlet feels in a row of tomatoes under one of the greenhouses of his farm nestled in a dead end of the village of Celles-sur-Aisne.

His fruits and vegetables, grown without “any chemical treatment” he repeats, will soon find themselves on the stall of a market, the only distribution channel that the 70-year-old market gardener, still active farmer, has ever known .

But after several biopsies ended in 2017 by a prostate operation gnawed by cancer cells, the energetic fellow has stalled.

“Since I had surgery, I have been feeling tired every day. Sexual point of view, it’s over … And I have total incontinence wearing diapers every day, two to three times a day … In a market you imagine, it’s unpleasant. I feel really diminished.”

What taunts most Jean-Claude Terlet is the origin of his cancer. Following the diagnosis, he asked to do a urine test at the University Hospital of Reims (Marne) to check for the presence of chemicals in his body.

As a result, “it’s huge, 0.25 mg glyphosate per liter in urine,” he says. And to conclude, solemnly:

“I swear that in the end my cancer was caused by this, especially since in this analysis no other treatment product appears.”

Expertise in September

This father of three used Round Up, Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide, until 2015, during some 30 years of labour “in the stubble to destroy the perennials, the edges of wood where there is nettles “because this powerful systemic destroys the plant” forever “, he explains.

In May 2017, his lawyer, Emmanuel Ludot, filed with the prosecutor of Lyons a complaint for “poisoning” against the US multinational. A farmer’s expertise will be held in September to determine if his cancer actually results from the use of this controversial herbicide.

Sales of Glyphosate in France.
Sales of Glyphosate in France. (© AFP / Sabrina BLANCHARD)

“Miracle product”

Jean-Claude Terlet wants to believe, exhilarated by the decision of a court in San Francisco (USA), who sentenced August 10 Monsanto to pay nearly $ 290 million in damages to Dewayne Johnson , an American gardener. 46 years old with cancer, for not having informed about the dangerousness of his glyphosate herbicide, considered responsible for his disease.

Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical group Bayer, has announced that it will appeal, claiming that its product is not carcinogenic.

“In my opinion it was quite logical that Monsanto is condemned,” said the farmer, reproaching the manufacturer for not having warned users how dangerous is the product.

His “unsophisticated” mask and his gloves have not protected him from the spray that “enters the cabin when we spray” and the particles that creep in all directions: “It comes like this,” he says.

“At the time, we were presented with glyphosate as a miracle product. Everyone bought it! We did not measure the consequences that could have in the medium and long term. And today the consequences are there.”

“I’ll go to the end”

Favorable to its definitive prohibition, the septuagenarian vilifies the lack of harmonisation of the common agricultural policies but also doubts that a possible product of substitution is less harmful.

In his opinion, a return to mechanical weeding could be viable, “on the sole condition that the loads are less strong”, a question of “profitability” in a world of agriculture in crisis.

The Axonian farmer is now calling for the awakening of his peers whom he considers to be “un-supportive”, while several lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto in recent years in France.

Aware that a trial will be long and costly in terms of his meager retirement, Terlet is determined to get compensation for his injury: “I’ll go to the end.”

Glyphosate, a controversial product
Glyphosate, a controversial product

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