France bans popular pesticide suspected of sickening dozens

At least 70 people, many of them farm workers, complained of burning eyes and throats and respiratory difficulties near Angers, a farming basin which specialises in lamb’s lettuce, also known as corn salad.

“These episodes confirm the soundness of our decision, but they did not precipitate it,” Françoise Weber, deputy director at Anses, told the Ouest France newspaper on Monday.

One of the most widely used pesticides in the US and Europe, metam sodium is considered a “probable human carcinogen” by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The compound, sold under brand names like Vapam and Sectagon, has been authorised in Europe until 2022, when a new safety review is scheduled.

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