France said in November the weed-killer glyphosate would be banned in three years’ time but farmers would be exempt from the ban until an alternative was found.
“The judgment marks the beginning of the end of arrogance [for Bayer and Monsanto], the end of this wretched couple’s self-importance,” Mr Hulot told the French daily Libération, adding that the landmark ruling “corrects the indifference of politicians towards Monsanto”.
“The decision confirms what many whistle-blowers have been saying for years about the dangerousness of glyphosate,” he continued.
A California court on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who said the company’s glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused his terminal cancer and ordered the company to pay him $289 million in damages.
The lawsuit filed by former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer. Monsanto, a unit of the German conglomerate Bayer AG, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.
The jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn Mr Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risk posed by its weed killers.
“Nothing will erase the pain and loneliness of these victims. It really is the weak versus the strong,” Mr Hulot added.
On Saturday, Mr Hulot told the French news channel BFM TV that the Monsanto ruling marked “the beginning of a war” against pesticides.
Monsanto, for its part, said in a statement it would appeal the verdict.
“Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews…support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson’s cancer,” the company said.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced in November plans to ban glyphosate within three years, unilaterally rejecting a European Union decision to extend its use for another five years after a fiery debate over whether Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer.
Mr Macron, however, said that some farmers would be exempt from the ban after they argued that three years was too soon to find an economic and environmentally viable alternative.