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Dead cows and sick farmers in Nozay: metal contamination revealed

A new development in the case of the dead cows and sick farmers in Nozay (Loire-Atlantique). Biological analyses have revealed rare earth contamination.

Didier Potiron, farmer, next to one of his sick cows
In Puceul, near Nozay (Loire-Atlantique), Didier Potiron and one of his cows are "sick"... without anyone really knowing what it is. But rare earth contamination has been revealed in humans and animals on this farm. (©archives Eclaireur)

Tuesday 25 February 2020. It is not yet midday but Didier Potiron, a dairy farmer in Puceul, near Nozay (Loire-Atlantique) has already announced "three dead cows today"! Complications following a calving, a drop in immunity or "an unknown reason" for the third one, are the explanations given, in a completely disillusioned tone, by the farmer.

It has to be said that he and his wife - like their neighbour Céline Bouvet, a farmer - have been suffering the deaths of their cows and calves for eight years now and the construction of the famous Quatre seigneurs wind farm, which straddles the communes of Puceul, Nozay, Abbaretz and Saffré.

A new fact-finding mission announced by the French State

Concerning the actions of the State in this matter, Didier Potiron announces :


Une mission d’enquête doit être envoyée par l’Élysée pour retravailler sur tous les rapports d’expertise qui ont déjà été faits, pour refaire un nouveau rapport. Le député Yves Daniel a toujours espoir de mettre le site hors tension dans le cadre de cette mission d’enquête. C’est lui qui fait la démarche auprès des ministères. Mais on ne nous a donné absolument aucune date.

Didier Potiron | Eleveur à Nozay (44)

As for the test that was announced last October by Serge Boulanger, Secretary General of the Loire-Atlantique Prefecture, concerning a buried 20,000 volt Enedis cable, it will not take place in the end: "It will not be overhead because Enedis has refused this experiment," says Didier Potiron.

Breeders work with independent lab toxSeek

The farming couple did not sit idly by this winter, however. While the government's expert reports seem to be stalling, they agreed to collaborate with the tests conducted by the association's independent biological laboratory toxSeek emergency. Similar tests had been carried out in the autumn of 2019 on children in Sainte-Pazanne, in the context of the scandal linked to an upsurge in paediatric cancers in this small commune of Loire-Atlantique.

"They came to take hair samples from our animals and from the family, as well as from some of the other residents," explains the breeder. The samples were taken in two stages: "In December and about a month later".

The results of the toxicological analyses shed new light on this complex issue:

"We are suffering from rare earth contamination. These are minerals used in telephone batteries and in some wind turbines..."

"Rare earths refer to 17 metals. These mineral materials with exceptional properties are used in the manufacture of high-tech products" (source: Gé, such as mobile phones, lasers and the permanent magnets used in some wind turbines. These rare earths are extremely reactive to magnetic fields.

Profiles identical to those of Sainte-Pazanne

In a statement "validated by the scientific committee of toxSeek," says Matthieu Davoli, president of the toxSeek emergency association, this is what it says:


Nous avons procédé à des analyses toxicologiques sur les cheveux de quatre membres de la famille Potiron. Le comité scientifique toxSeek, présidé par le Dr Sadeg, a identifié un profil de contamination aux métaux et terres rares pour deux personnes. Ce profil de contamination avait déjà été trouvé dans le cadre de notre action avec le collectif Stop aux cancers de nos enfants à Sainte-Pazanne.

Matthieu Davoli | Président de l’association toxSeek urgence

Even more surprising to the scientists at toxSeek:
<bbb>Toxicological analyses of hair (from cows and calves) revealed that two thirds of the animals had metal contamination twice the average of a population of supposedly healthy control animals (from a farm 8 km from Mr Potiron's farm).</bbb>

The same rare earth contamination in animals

Contacted by telephone, Matthieu Davoli specifies that "we cannot talk about a contamination profile for animals because there is no health threshold established for them today. For animals, we therefore talk about contamination structure. Nevertheless, the results of the analyses showed that the 'contamination structure' of animals was 'the same' as in humans.

Here again, there are many rare earths. In humans, it's conceivable that this could be caused by new technologies, by using a mobile phone with a broken window, for example. But as far as animals are concerned... It's really quite astonishing, these results!

The source of this contamination, and how it works, remain very obscure for the moment: We are faced with a problem of environmental source, that is certain. But it is necessarily a multifactorial problem. It is important to know that we find these same profiles in other contexts: urban contexts, in particular, where there are no wind turbines.

A "multifactorial environmental problem"

Disturbed cow on the farm of Didier Potiron
Disturbed cow on the Potiron farm in Puceul (Loire-Atlantique). (©archives Eclaireur)

The association toxSeek emergency however assures that it intends to communicate "in the next few days" on the subject:
This multifactorial, we are beginning to draw it a bit. But I can't tell you about it just yet... What is worrying is that this profile is associated with serious pathologies. I think we have put our finger on something very serious.

The association toxSeek emergency therefore wants to set up "a major research programme".
We will look for these [contamination] profiles in the world's population, to be able to link them to one of the environmental and health issues. And from there, we hope to be able to find the sources and the functioning [of this contamination]. The objective is to know how to control this risk.

Complaints will be filed

The Nozay breeders, supported by the association toxSeek emergency and by Eddie Puyjalon, national president of the Mouvement de la ruralité, are now preparing files with their lawyers for complaints to be filed in the next two months.

Rare earth poisoning: what the Anses says

There are currently very few official studies on the subject of rare earth toxicity. And it seems that there are none yet on the dangerous cocktail of simultaneous exposure to rare earths and strong magnetic fields (proximity of wind turbines, mobile phone antennas or very high voltage lines).

However, on the website of the French National Health Security Agency (Anses), one can find a scientific watch bulletin dated 2008-2009 and entitled "Neurotoxic effects of rare earths: recent advances".

In the general conclusion, the toxicity of these minerals is confirmed. It states: 'It is therefore likely that the number of cases of contamination of natural environments by rare earths will increase due to the exponential growth of their production and use. It is also foreseeable that human exposure to these chemical elements, in their various forms, may occur with greater frequency. Epidemiological studies in China in areas with high rare earth geochemical background have shown neurodevelopmental disorders in children. [...] We need to be vigilant about possible environmental and health impacts of the increased use of rare earths in the coming years.