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Pesticides: brain tumors of farmers little by little recognized as occupational disease – economy


“He was aware of the dangerousness of these products, but he made a point of doing so. It was her religion: that the job be well done, ”says Jeanne.

75 years old, mother of five children, living in a small town between Loire-Atlantique and Vendée.

Her husband, Constant

, a dairy cow breeder, treated his crops with pesticides from the age of 14. He died at age 69 of a brain tumor.

“We have been in misery. My children had to help me to live. During the illness, we spent a lot of money, ”recalls Jeanne.

I did this for my husband. It was important that his honor be defended

In February 2020, the Nantes regional committee for the recognition of occupational diseases (CRRMP), made up of three doctors, established a “direct and essential link” between Constant’s disease and his profession as a farmer. “From recent scientific literature, it emerges that such exposure (to pesticides, Editor’s note) is associated with an increased risk of developing cerebral glioma”, underlines the committee in an opinion.

“I did this for my husband. It was important that his honor be defended, ”explains his wife. This recognition also means an income of a little over 7,000 euros per year for Jeanne who will no longer need “to ask (her) daughters for money, to pay attention to (s) ‘buy food” . “It’s huge, unexpected,” she says.

Karine had to go to court to have her husband’s disease recognized, who died in March 2020, at the age of 43, from a glioblastoma diagnosed a year earlier. “The income will allow us to fix the house,” explains the dairy cow breeder, who receives guests in the kitchen of her farm, where the temperature barely exceeds 13 ° C.

On December 10, the Rennes TGI agreed with him on a question of deadline, without commenting on the scientific aspect.

Dead in less than a year

Jean-Michel, Odette, Michel, Christophe… “We had to know several rather young peasants who died in less than a year after brain tumors”, says Michel Besnard, from the collective supporting the victims of pesticides in the West. , who defended both cases.

The collective’s lawyer, Hermine Baron, talks about six current or past cases. “It’s complicated because these are pathologies in which the vital prognosis is engaged quickly,” she says.

All the more complicated since brain tumors are not recognized pathologies in the table of agricultural occupational diseases. Unlike Parkinson’s disease or hematologic malignancies caused by pesticides, the recognition of which is in principle easier.

The Mutualité sociale agricole (MSA), which processes the files, has counted “twelve cases of malignant tumors of the brain having been the subject of a passage in CRRMP” between 2014 and 2020, most of the time without success, according to a spokesperson, who recalls that an Inserm report from 2013 noted “a limited level of evidence” as to the link between pesticides and brain tumors.

“It is more difficult to implement studies on rare diseases because the power of statistical analyzes (…) is directly linked to the size of the studies”, explains Isabelle Baldi, epidemiologist at the University of Bordeaux.

But the Agrican cohort, which includes 180,000 participants affiliated with the MSA, “shows higher risks of central nervous system tumors in users of pesticides on certain crops (potatoes, sunflowers and beets)”, emphasizes- she. “In addition, links have been demonstrated with insecticides, herbicides and fungicides from the group of carbamate pesticides.”

The Agrican survey thus points to a risk that can be multiplied by three or four depending on the pesticides used and the tumors concerned.

“These recognition procedures have a future”, wants to believe Hermine Baron.

First names changed

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