Fault Lines

The Pesticide Playbook

A global chemical giant covered up its product’s links to Parkinson’s. Fault Lines investigates.

For decades, one of the world’s largest pesticide manufacturers deployed the Big Tobacco playbook to keep its flagship product ubiquitous—despite the company’s own internal research showing that it harmed farmers.

Today the pesticide, paraquat, is banned in 58 countries—but its use is on the rise in the United States, despite mounting scientific evidence that it causes Parkinson’s disease.

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Now, American farmers are challenging its manufacturer, Syngenta, in court, alleging it minimised, obfuscated and manipulated the science linking its product to Parkinson’s.

The outcome of the case could help determine whether wide swathes of the United States remain doused in one of the most toxic pesticides on earth.