Pesticides: “my back was soaked with herbicides”, victim of cancer, Julien Guillard seeks compensation from his former employers

Julien Guillard, a former agricultural worker then heavy goods vehicle driver, was exposed to pesticides and exhaust gases for several years. Victim of cancer, recognized as an occupational disease, he is asking his former employers for compensation at the Nantes court, this Wednesday March 9 at 2 p.m.

Julien Guillard’s life was completely turned upside down in 2016. This young father from Le Mans, then 33 years old, suddenly learned that he was suffering from a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.


At the time, he had a 4 year old little boy and his wife was pregnant with a little girl. Julien Guillard falls from the clouds. The drama has just knocked on their door. “The treatment will be painful”announces his hematologist.

He begins chemotherapy: “it’s very violent, you lose your hair, you find yourself unable to climb the 3 floors that lead to your apartment, when my second child was born, I was still in the middle of chemo, bedridden 3, 4 days after each session “.

7 months later, Julien Guillard is in remission, but his health is failing: “I have never regained the form I had before”.

According to his doctors, his cancer, he owes it to the working conditions in which he exercised as a farmer-landscaper in the Sarthe and in Strasbourg and truck driver in Alsace.

During his professional career, Julien Guillard had to handle pesticides and insecticides, as well as inhale a lot of gas fumes from exhaust pipes. His pathology was recognized as an occupational disease.

In 2018, with the help of the Phyto-Victimes association, of which he became vice-president, he decided to initiate inexcusable fault proceedings on the part of the employer.

After several adjournments, his case must finally be pleaded this Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at 2 p.m., at the Judicial Court of Nantes, in Loire-Atlantique.

“The goal, beyond my personal case, is that, behind, all the other victims recognize themselves, be recognized and be better considered by the public authorities.“, wishes Julien Guillard.

Because according to him, his former employers “did not know how to protect him”. When he was a farmer, he had no protection against the chemicals he handled all day long: “no mask, no gloves or suit, when you think about it now… we had nothing!”.

Spread herbicide before sowing, dispose of insecticide on rapeseed because there were animals… “It was part of the job.” “J‘had a knapsack sprayer with tank, hand pump and wand, but the product was leaking and running down my back which was soaked in herbicide,’ he says.

Then he followed his wife to Strasbourg, where he did not find a job in his sector. He then became a crane driver. And again, he was not spared: “My driving position was near the exhaust pipes. Depending on the wind, I took all the smoke in the face, it gave me a headache and nausea”. He claims to have informed his company, “maybe not enough”.

“I don’t know if my employers were aware of the danger I was running, in any case, me, no”, regrets Julien Guillard.

So today, he raises awareness among young people in agricultural high schools: “I tell them my story, I try to make them aware of the serious consequences that the misuse of pesticides can have”.

If the practices have evolved since his beginnings in agriculture, Julien Guillard notes with each intervention that“One or two students still don’t protect themselves”, like him at the time. “So I hope they will think of me the next time they use pesticides”.

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