Paraquat Goes to Court

And for the crop protection industry, the courtroom drama continues. This time, an older active ingredient, paraquat, is in the cross-hairs in the Land of Lincoln.

In March, CropLife magazine looked at all the legal issues surrounding many of the industry’s most popular products, including glyphosate and dicamba. However, now one of the older chemistries, paraquat (first marketed as Gramoxone in 1962), is being targeted.


Early last month, the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) reported that several of its ag retail members were receiving subpoenas for information on paraquat usage with their grower-customers. These were apparently tied to a court case against Syngenta Crop Protection currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

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Paraquat works as a herbicide by inhibiting photosynthesis in plants. In addition, it also can be toxic to mammals (including humans), with some studies linking it to the development of Parkinson’s disease. For this reason, paraquat use is banned in 58 countries around the globe, including in the European Union since 2007. However, EPA has not found any connection between the use of paraquat and Parkinson’s disease.

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In a letter to IFCA members regarding the subpoenas, association President Kevin “K.J.” Johnson advised ag retailers to respond to these requests “in a good faith effort.” “If you have no records pertinent to the subpoena after conducting a reasonable inquiry, communicate accordingly to the plaintiff’s attorney,” wrote Johnson. “However, since these lawsuits are focused solely on paraquat, it seems reasonable to provide information focused only on that product.”

Obviously, all the time the crop protection suppliers have spent in court fighting for their products up until now will continue to expand.