Was a Pesticide’s Manufacturer Aware of Its Connection to Parkinson’s?

A high-profile investigation reveals more about this case

Wheat fields
A new investigation explores the health effects of weed killer.
Adam Rhodes/Unsplash

The last few decades have abounded with stories of large corporations releasing products that caused harm — some through addiction, and others through debilitating physical conditions. What makes many of these cases far worse is learning that a company knew that they were causing harm but took no action to stop it. This can involve everything from the effects of pollution to the opioid epidemic. And the latest instance of it might come from the world of pesticides.

A new investigation from The Guardian and The New Lede explores the long-term effects of a weed killer called paraquat, which is made by the company Syngenta. At issue here? A sizable number of farmers who used paraquat have developed Parkinson’s. As Carey Gillam and Aliya Uteuova wrote in one article, “[s]o many people have recently filed legal claims alleging paraquat caused them to develop Parkinson’s that the cases have been consolidated for oversight by a federal judge in Illinois and a state court judge in California.”

Making matters worse is the fact that, as Gilliam and Uteouva write, “company insiders” were aware that they might be liable for this connection beginning in 1975.

As The Guardian noted in another article in the same series, this has led to thousands of lawsuits. The documents revealed in this investigation add another level to this case — and offer an unsettling look at decades’ worth of corporate policy.

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