Yannick Chenet, 43, who died of leukemia, is among some 40 farmers in France whose illnesses have now been linked to their profession and the chemicals and pesticides they have sprayed, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The French agricultural public health body said it is not singling out any specific product but suspects benzene, often used by farmers as a solvent or thinner for pesticides, as playing a part in Chenet's disease.
Farmer Paul Francois, 47, a close friend of Chenet, also suffers from severe health problems being linked to the products he used.
In April 2004, he was not wearing a mask when he inadvertently breathed in noxious fumes from his agricultural spraying machine. He was hospitalized in a coma.
Since then his illness has affected his kidneys and nervous system and he has relapsed into comas several times.
He has since launched legal action against Monsanto, the company that produced Lasso, the pesticide he breathed in. It was taken off the market in 2007.
IUPP, a French group representing 19 companies that market crop protection products in France, said pesticides on the market are "systematically the subject of tests and it is imperative to respect safety precautions on (product) labels."