Zantac Torts

Paraquat and Roundup: Profit Over People

In a court filing this year Syngenta, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and Chevron USA faced several hundred cases against them in both state and federal courts in the states that are still pending trial. The lawsuits claim that their paraquat-based herbicides cause Parkinson’s disease while the defendants deny any liability. A highly toxic chemical known as paraquat dichloride used as an herbicide. Due to its toxicity, it is a restricted use pesticide, wherein licensed applicators only are allowed to purchase it and those applying the pesticide are to take a training program once every 3 three years. 

Paraquat is one of the most popular commercial herbicides in the United States. The chemical was developed in the 1960’s to treat weeds that are resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate (as opposed to paraquat dichloride) is widely known as Roundup. There is an increasing amount of glyphosate-resistant weeds in our crops we grow food in,  and paraquat is expected to be used more often and in higher quantities. The only thing standing in the way of that is pending litigation results on the highly toxic chemical being removed from the U.S. market.

The EPA has adopted policies to protect people who work with paraquat. Included in the policies are a certification and training program. 

Syngenta filed suit in a Delaware state court in May of 2021, suggesting 130 insurers also be liable for litigation expenses due to the paraquat allegations. 

Scientific studies, like that of a 2011 study of U.S. farmers performed by several government agencies, discovered that “exposure to agricultural pesticides may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.” The link between Parkinson’s disease and paraquat will be the focal point of vigorous debate in the upcoming cases. 

Surprisingly; there are still multiple agricultural groups and farmers are campaigning to continue the use of paraquat. Despite serious concerns having been raised, keeping the product on the market will help protect profits. The EPA wanted and attempted to ban the use of aerial spraying of paraquat, but industry lobbyists successfully defeated the intent of the EPA and ultimately the agency conceded to let aerial spraying be done with slight restrictions. This decision that allows the continuation of paraquat for aerial spraying is based on information that was provided by the manufacturers of the farm chemical…. This obviously leaves skeptics doubting the legitimacy of that information. 

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