Sun, Jun 10, 2018 - Page 16 News List

French regional beekeeping union sues Bayer after finding glyphosate traces

AFP, LYON, France

A beekeeping cooperative in northern France has filed a legal complaint against German chemical conglomerate Bayer AG after traces of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate were detected in batches of honey, officials said on Friday.

Famille Michaud, one of the country’s largest honey marketers, found the chemical in three batches supplied by one of its members, said l’Abeille de l’Aisne Beekeeping Union president Jean-Marie Camus, whose cooperative represents about 200 beekeepers in the Aisne region.

“They systematically analyze the honey shipments they receive and they found glyphosate,” Camus said.

Glyphosate, introduced by the US agricultural conglomerate Monsanto under the Roundup brand, is the most widely used weedkiller in France, where French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to outlaw it by 2021.

Scientists have suspected the chemical of causing cancer, but the EU in November last year renewed the license for glyphosate weedkillers, despite deep divisions between member states.

Emmanuel Ludot, a lawyer for the cooperative, said that the tainted honey came from a producer whose hives are near extensive fields of sunflowers, beets and rapeseed.

“But you also can’t forget the weekend gardeners who often tend to use Roundup,” he said.

The complaint was filed on Thursday to coincide with the closing of Monsanto Co’s merger with Bayer, creating an agrichemical behemoth which many environmental activists have denounced for its promotion of chemical herbicides, as well as genetically modified seeds.

Ludot said he hopes that the complaint will prompt an inquiry to determine the percentage of glyphosate in the batches and any health consequences it might have for humans.

“It’s also a matter of knowing how widespread this might be. Famille Michaud tells me this isn’t an isolated case,” he said.

“We regularly detect foreign substances, including glyphosate,” Familles Michaud president Vincent Michaud told reporters.

If the weedkiller is found, a supplier’s entire shipment is rejected, he said.

“Usually, beekeepers will say ‘In that case I’ll sell the honey at a roadside stand or a market,’ where there’s no quality control,” Michaud said. “But this beekeeper had the courage to say ‘I’m not going to be like everyone else, I’m going to file suit against Monsanto.’”

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