U.S. judge sets November trial against Syngenta alleging weed killer causes Parkinson’s disease
A federal judge appointed to coordinate claims that Syngenta AG’s paraquat weed killers cause Parkinson’s disease said Wednesday she was setting a jury trial date for Nov. 15.
U.S. Judge Nancy Rosenstengel of the Southern District of Illinois issued the order in an initial hearing with lawyers from multiple firms who are representing people alleging their exposure to Syngenta’s popular herbicides caused them or family members to develop and suffer from the dreaded neurological disorder.
There are 157 cases pending in state and federal courts around the country, according to a June 22 court filing. The plaintiffs allege Syngenta was aware of the risks but failed to warn users.
Syngenta, which is owned by a Chinese chemical company, has denied the allegations.
Along with Syngenta, the defendants include Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, and Chevron USA, Inc. All have denied any liability.
Several scientific studies have linked paraquat to Parkinson’s, including a large study of U.S. farmers jointly overseen by multiple U.S. government agencies. Farmers use paraquat in the production of many crops, including corn, soy and cotton. The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) said it found that “exposure to agricultural pesticides may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.” In 2011, AHS researchers reported that “participants who used paraquat or rotenone were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as people who didn’t use these chemicals.”
A more recent paper from AHS researchers stated that “Extensive literature suggests an association between general pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, with few exceptions, little is known about associations between specific pesticides and PD.”
Parkinson’s is an incurable progressive nervous system disorder that limits a person’s ability to control movement, causing tremors, loss of balance and eventually often leaving victims bedridden and/or bound to a wheelchair. The disease is not necessarily fatal but typically becomes severely debilitating.
Dutch neurologist Bastiaan Bloem, who recently authored a book about Parkinson’s, blames widespread exposure to herbicides such as paraquat, along with other toxic chemicals used in agriculture and manufacturing, for the spread of the disease.
The case number for the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois is 3:21-md-03004-NJR
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