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UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson's fears
UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson's fears
UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson's fears

Science and Technology

UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson’s fears

UK farmers are demanding that the UK’s production of the poisoned weedkiller Paraquat be banned, citing research showing that it may be the first cause of Parkinson’s disease. Hundreds of American farm workers are following a lawsuit filed against their producer. Claiming he is aware of the danger and failing to warn them.

Andy Pollard was once a UK farmers who was able to jump on his tractor boat. But now his limbs are strong, and his body is full of pain. He has developed severe Parkinson’s disease, and he can no longer control his movements.

He spent decades spraying pesticides on his land and, unaware of any danger, did not use protective equipment.

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“Paraquat was the best thing to use – even if we thought so,” said his wife Sue. “Andy will be driving around the fields and the spray will go everywhere.”

UK farmers thought it was just a coincidence that the only people. Who knew about Parkinson’s were farm workers, and he learned about the possible interactions with this chemical.

Controlled and stopped?

“Why can’t it be controlled and stopped?” he asks. “We have a lot of people in the same situation.”
Paraquat began production in the UK in the early 1960s and is sold worldwide – 377 companies have registered for sale.

It is one of the most popular and effective herbicides, with millions of farmers using it to control weeds. But it is also one of the most dangerous and has caused thousands of deaths.

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Its manufacturer, Syngenta. Says allegations of links between Paraquat and Parkinson are unsubstantiated by scientific evidence. Claiming that it has conducted more than 1,200 security studies.

UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson's fears
UK farmers want weedkiller ban banned for Parkinson’s fears

Andy regularly visits the Dorset farm run by the charity Countrymen UK. Founded by Julie Plumley after her father John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

The 30-hectare farm sells beef and lamb. In the yard, instead of a tractor, there is a motorbike. “UK farmers come here not because they are sick,” explains Julie, “but because they want to survive.”

Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s Disease is believed to be the world’s fastest-growing neurological condition. It affects neurons in a specific area of ​​the brain called substantia nigra.

It degenerates, gradually leading to convulsions and stiffness in the limbs. International research shows that in rural areas, agricultural areas are more likely to have high rates of the disease.

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Julie explains that her young farm did not belong to the local council, so her father had to meet certain conditions. “He had to use chemicals, because if you had a lot of dung leaves or thistles, they could cost you money. Paraquat was an insecticide that all farmers used.”

He carried a suitcase full of chemicals and spent many hours watering the fields. “He could roll up his sleeves, his arms were empty, the liquid dripping down.”

John contracted the disease in his 40’s and always believed that there was a chemical contact.
Ken now visits Julie’s farm. He still blinks, but his speech is over. “It’s a terrible disease,” said his wife, Sue. “It took his life.”

He says its production in the UK and exports should be stopped. “I would not want my son with a degree in agriculture to be like his father.”

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It exports to countries such as the US, Japan and Australia, and about a fifth of its exports go to developing countries.

Field workers

In the US, nearly 900 farmers and field workers have gathered to sue the manufacturer, claiming that not only is there a link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s, but that Syngenta has deliberately hidden health risks from the authorities.

Syngenta dismisses allegations made in the remaining case cases in several states, which are due to appear in court later this year.

The company’s latest financial statement shows that the company has already paid $ 187.5m in the payment fund. But it said the company believes all of these claims are baseless and the only payment is to keep the claims going.
Toxicologist Prof Jon Heylings worked for Syngenta and its predecessors for more than 20 years. After retiring, he became a whistleblower, and has already testified as an expert witness in US legal proceedings.

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He said farmers who use it without protective equipment, which damage their skin, should be concerned. “If they come out the next day and use it again, the next day you can absorb a lot of Paraquat through the skin, into the bloodstream and into the brain,” he said.

Parkinson’s disease when it enters the brain

“The issue is does it really cause Parkinson’s disease when it enters the brain? That’s one of the most important issues surrounding all exposure. And if this chemical causes Parkinson’s, who’s responsible?”

There is no scientific consensus and many conflicting theories about any possible interaction between Paraquat and Parkinson’s.

In the UK, research organization Cure Parkinson’s said exposure was “a well-known risk factor” but Parkinson’s UK said the study showed “a small and growing risk”.

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In the US, a 17-year study found that Paraquat contributed to the onset and progression of Parkinson’s. And a study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences – part of the US Department of Health – found that people using Paraquat improved Parkinson’s by two and a half times more often than those who did not.
But there are scientists who believe that Syngenta puts profits ahead of product safety and public health.

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