The EPA is at it again. In an agency draft, it again backs the use of this very toxic herbicide, paraquat, claiming it is safe for use across millions of acres of American cropland despite what public health advocates characterize as virtual scientific proof it causes Parkinson’s disease.
By law, the EPA is required to review pesticides every 15 years. It did and approved paraquat again in 2021. The EPA was sued by several agricultural and public health groups in 2021 charging it had ignored broad scientific consensus linking paraquat to Parkinson’s. The EPA agreed to review its approval. They did and here we are again at the same decision as before. Oh, the EPA did agree it will review more science and could change course when issuing a final report next year. In the meanwhile, the poison stays on the market.
The fight over the use of paraquat in the United States has been going on for decades. This chemical poison, a very effective weed killer, is manufactured by Syngenta. Interestingly, nearly 60 countries have banned paraquat use. This includes the UK and EU countries. Another fact…. A state-owned Chinese company bought Syngenta in 2017 but paraquat is banned for use in China.
Scientific research clearly shows paraquat interferes with dopamine production and regulation, and people with Parkinson’s have reduced dopamine levels. Paraquat is also linked to respiratory damage and kidney disease. Ingestion of a single teaspoon is considered deadly.
And finally, those most at risk seem to be the communities and farmworkers in the central California farming area. This is the area of enormous production of crops for the food market in the United States. It appears the EPA could care less about the communities and workers there as long as Syngenta makes a profit. But even worse is that residues from paraquat likely find their way onto the food we all purchase at the grocery store. I have to wonder how many cases of Parkinson’s have resulted.
In looking back at pesticide use which really began after WWII, it is crystal clear we have not made wise decisions. The first big alert was DDT. Then in Viet Nam during the war there, we covered that country with Agent Orange. That was devastating to Viet Nam and to thousands of US military personnel; even to those in the supply chain that got that chemical from the United States to Viet Nam. When will we wise up? But, again the story is that money talks the loudest!