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According to allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit, Syngenta has fraudulently concealed and withheld information about the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, causing agricultural workers and those living in areas surrounding fields where the weedkiller was sprayed to develop devastating neurological injuries.
Kimberly Jane Thompson filed the complaint (PDF) late last week in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, indicating her Parkinson’s disease diagnosis was caused by repeated exposure to Paraquat since 2011, due to spray drift and runoff from agricultural fields close to her home and church.
Paraquat is a highly toxic grass and weed killer that has been sold by Syngenta to farmers and through agricultural cooperatives. The chemical is known to be lethal, and can result in sudden death if only a small amount is ingested. As a result, individuals in the United States are required to go through a special training program before purchasing, handling or spraying the product. However, a growing number of Paraquat lawsuits now allege that Syngenta withheld information about the risk of Parkinson’s disease from normal and expected handling of the weed killer, as well as herbicide drift.
“Many epidemiological studies have found an association between Paraquat exposure and [Parkinson’s disease] PD, including multiple studies finding a two- to five-fold or greater increase in the risk of PD in populations with occupational exposure to Paraquat compared to populations without such exposure,” according to the complaint. “Defendants had knowledge of these studies and the relationship between Paraquat exposure and PD, but actively and fraudulently concealed this information from Plaintiff and others.”
Thompson indicates it was reasonably foreseeable that when Paraquat is used in the intended manner, individuals in nearby areas would be exposed to Paraquat, including as a result of runoff and spray drift, where droplets may be carried by the wind from area to area. This can result in Paraquat entering the human body from ingestion into the digestive tract after swallowing small droplets that enter the mouth, nose or airways.
“On information and belief, Plaintiff’s exposures to Paraquat that occurred after June 3, 2011 were a substantial contributing factor in the development of her PD,” according to the complaint. “No doctor or any other person ever told Plaintiff that her PD was or could have been caused by exposure to Paraquat. Before early 2021, Plaintiff had never read or heard of any articles in newspapers, scientific journals, or other publications that associated Parkinson’s disease with Paraquat.”
Over the past year, there have been dozens of similar Paraquat lawsuits filed in courts throughout the U.S., and Thompson maintains it has now become apparent Syngenta deceived consumers and intentionally hid the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
While genetics are often believed to be a major cause of Parkinson’s disease, growing research indicates genes are only believed to be associated with about one-in-ten cases. Exposure to herbicides and pesticides are increasingly considered a leading risk, especially when combined with other factors that place individuals at risk of the development of Parkinson’s.
Nearly 100 cases are currently filed in various different U.S. District Courts nationwide, each raising similar claims and allegations that Plaintiffs may have avoided a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis if earlier information had been provided.