In the U.S., increased commercialized farming has simplified ecosystems and embraced monocropping. All of this at the price of getting dependent on herbicides and fertilizers.
The result: the agriculture system benefits from higher profit margins and bigger output. Be that as it may, this chemical-dependent agriculture caused disastrous results, and we’re reaping the seeds sown.
There is an immediate connection between the increase in chronic health problems and the use of chemicals, like pesticides, in food production. What else? The reliance on pesticides, for example, the herbicide paraquat, is inflicting a public health crisis with very little accountability by manufacturers.
The deeply toxic impact of this herbicide is currently being studied. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken extremely careful measures so that the herbicide should be used exclusively by professional applicators, like landscapers and farmers. Also, on its website, EPA warns users that one sip will kill. The pesticide warning labels additionally inform that just several drops, if swallowed, are lethal.
In light of this potential for fatal consequences, farmers and other users have to stay vigilant when using paraquat. One splash or spill of this highly toxic product could lead to death, so they must be on the lookout to not do anything potentially dangerous.
The herbicide paraquat is both a blessing and a curse. It kills both grass and broadleafs, acts quickly, and remains active for an extended time.
Initially created in 1882 as an aromatic organic salt, paraquat’s destructive characteristics weren’t discovered until the 1950s. Soon after, Imperial Chemical Inc. (ICI) began production of paraquat, which became a common total herbicide.
One of the foremost important reasons for paraquat’s rise to prominence in agricultural use is its success with no-till systems. These quite common farming strategies don’t use harrows or rotivators to break up clumps of dirt to kill weeds. These tools kill weeds and turn the soil, allowing more water retention in a field where crops will be grown.
Tilling produces several issues, from erosion to increased contribution to climate change. However, without tilling, weed management is completely different. Paraquat is efficient in most weeds, works fast, seals onto the plants, and isn’t washed away by rain. Also, it loses reactivity once it comes into contact with soil. Therefore, careful spraying between rows of crops makes it ideal for killing off weeds in a no-till field.
The world does not agree on paraquat. There’s an outright ban in the European Union, and yet it’s still marketed elsewhere. While there’s no doubting paraquat’s dark side, it remains in use, particularly under the commercial name Gramoxone though it can solely be applied by licensed operators.
Troubles for Paraquat Manufacturers
Scientists are studying the results of paraquat exposure on Parkinson’s and conclude that it does cause the disease. Syngenta is now facing litigation for this issue—even though they deny responsibility.
Lawyers are amassing evidence that shows Syngenta knew—and covered up—evidence that paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease in long-term users like farmers.
Syngenta is on the defensive, claiming that any such connection between their product and Parkinson’s couldn’t be determined. It additionally denies any involvement in concealing evidence.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder. It’s progressive, incurable and:
- Limits a person’s ability to move
- Causes tremors and loss of balance
- Often leaves victims forced to use a wheelchair or bedridden
Several studies have evaluated the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s. Multiple government agencies oversaw one important study of US farmers. However, the EPA recently completed a review of the scientific information on paraquat and Parkinson’s and deemed the evidence as insufficient. Therefore, it didn’t officially link paraquat to the disease.
An Illinois case is the first one to go to court against Syngenta over allegations that the herbicide paraquat can cause Parkinson’s. The trial was scheduled for April 2021 and postponed for May due to Covid-19 precautions.
Hoffman V Syngenta is one of many cases filed against the paraquat manufacturer alleging its products cause Parkinson’s. The litigation got another twist when China National Chemical Corporation—ChemChina—acquired Syngenta in 2015.
Settling the matter in a court of law is essential for people that were exposed to the herbicide paraquat and now have a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. This affects human physical and mental well-being. The U.S. will hopefully sort this out sooner rather than later.