10 choses à savoir sur Dewayne Johnson, l’homme qui a fait condamner Monsanto

DeWayne Johnson, le 9 juillet dernier à San Francisco. (JOSH EDELSON / POOL / AFP)

 


Le géant de l’agrochimie a été condamné à verser 289 millions de dollars à ce jardinier atteint d’un cancer qu’il attribue au Roundup.

Il est le visage du combat judiciaire contre Monsanto. A 46 ans, cet ex-jardinier atteint d’un cancer en phase terminale, qu’il attribue à l’utilisation du désherbant Roundup, est le premier citoyen à affronter en justice le géant des pesticides. Condamné à lui verser 289 millions de dollars, une première historique, le géant de l’agrochimie annonce vouloir faire appel.

1Jardinier

Jardinier, ce père de deux garçons utilisait au quotidien le Roundup et le Ranger Pro, sa version professionnelle, plus concentrée. Entre 2012 et 2015, il en répandait plusieurs dizaines de fois par an, par hectolitres entiers dans les écoles d’une petite ville au nord-ouest de San Francisco. En éliminant les mauvaises herbes, il s’aspergeait parfois par mégarde du Ranger Pro sur la peau, sur le visage. « Malgré les protections, c’était inévitable », raconte-t-il. De curieuses marques apparaissaient.

2Lésions

Dewayne Johnson a toujours été en parfaite santé : c’est en voyant les lésions cutanées se multiplier qu’il a fait le rapprochement. En 2014, on lui diagnostique un lymphome non hodgkinien, un cancer incurable du système lymphatique. « Je suis allé voir mon supérieur pour lui parler de mon cancer et il m’a dit : ‘il faut généralement deux ans pour en attraper un avec ces produits’ », déclare-t-il au tribunal. « C’était la première fois que j’entendais parler de ces risques. » Aujourd’hui, sa peau est un champ de bataille, rongée à 90%.

3Souffrance


S’il reste robuste malgré la chimiothérapie, les médecins ne lui donnent que deux ans à vivre. Pour payer les factures, sa femme Araceli doit cumuler deux emplois. « Quand il a été diagnostiqué, il souffrait beaucoup à cause de sa peau », raconte-t-elle au procès. « Il pleurait la nuit quand il pensait qu’on dormait. »

4Procès

C’est aussi parce qu’il est mourant que le procès a pu être accéléré, comme le veut la loi californienne. « Je me battrai jusqu’à mon dernier souffle », dit-il. Dewayne Johnson a attaqué la firme agro-chimique Monsanto en 2016, aidé par le cabinet d’avocats The Miller Firm, spécialisé dans les dommages corporels liés à l’industrie. C’est la première fois qu’un individu traîne le mastodonte américain des pesticides, récemment racheté par l’Allemand Bayer, devant les tribunaux. Il réclamait plus de 400 millions de dollars.

5Papers

La procédure judiciaire a permis de révéler les Monsanto Papers, des centaines de documents secrets de l’entreprise. Ils montrent notamment comment l’entreprise a fait paraître des articles coécrits par ses employés, et signés par des scientifiques, pour contrer les informations dénonçant la toxicité du glyphosate, principe actif du Roundup.

6Jurisprudence

Après un mois de débats, les 12 jurés du procès Johnson ont commencé leurs délibérations le 8 août. Ils devaient répondre à trois questions : le glyphosate est-il cancérigène ? Monsanto a-t-il tenté de le cacher ? Combien doit-il payer ? Leur décision pourrait avoir des conséquences lourdes : plus de 4.000 victimes présumées du glyphosate ont porté plainte aux Etats-Unis…

7GLyphosate



Le glyphosate a été classé « cancérigène probable » en 2015 par l’OMS (Organisation mondiale de la santé). Les agences européennes EFSA et ECHA, ainsi que l’agence américaine EPA, n’ont en revanche pas franchi le pas, ce qui permet à Monsanto de continuer à nier la dangerosité du produit. « Les conclusions de 40 ans de recherche scientifique sont claires », assure son avocat George Lombardi : « Ce cancer n’est pas causé par le glyphosate ».

8France

En France, Monsanto est poursuivi dans deux affaires : le céréalier Paul François, qui a porté plainte en 2007, a perdu en cassation à cause d’une erreur de forme et attend un nouveau procès en appel. Un couple a par ailleurs saisi la justice en mai dernier, en accusant le glyphosate d’avoir provoqué la malformation de leur fils.

9Brésil


Une rude bataille judiciaire a lieu dans le même temps au Brésil, où le glyphosate est très utilisé dans les plantations de soja. Une juge de Brasilia a ordonné une suspension d’enregistrement d’un mois en vue d’une « réévaluation toxicologique ». Le ministère de l’Agriculture tente, lui, désespérément de faire annuler cette décision, pointant le risque économique pour les cultivateurs brésiliens.

10Comptes

Le « jour de rendre des comptes » est venu, prévient l’avocat de Dewayne Johnson, Brent Wisner. Toutes les découvertes sur les risques cancérigènes « ont connu ce moment : lorsque la science finalement fait ses preuves, quand on ne peut plus les dissimuler », dit-il. « Pour le tabac, nous connaissons la fin de l’histoire, et nous savons comment se finira l’histoire pour Monsanto. » C’est Bayer qui pourrait bientôt regretter son acquisition…


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