For Immediate Release,
July 18, 2019
WASHINGTON— U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation to ban paraquat, an extremely toxic herbicide that has been shown to more than double the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in farmworkers and others suffering occupational exposure.
Paraquat has already been banned or is being phased out in 32 countries around the world, including Brazil, China and the European Union. But its use in the United States has increased by 84 percent in the past 10 years due to its application on superweeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, commonly sold as Bayer’s Roundup.
“It’s alarming that paraquat use has nearly doubled in the United States, even as it’s being outlawed in China, Brazil and Europe,” said Emily Knobbe, a specialist in Environmental Protection Agency policy at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m grateful that Congresswoman Velazquez has introduced this long-overdue bill to ban paraquat. Paraquat’s a dangerous herbicide that the EPA considers to be extremely toxic to plants and animals. A ban would protect people and wildlife from the serious harms of this herbicide.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has previously determined that exposure to the paraquat hurts birds, fish, amphibians and small mammals. The pesticide causes significant harm to the endangered California red-legged frog and is likely harmful to many other imperiled plants and animals.
Because of paraquat’s potential to cause injury and death, the EPA restricts its use to certified applicators. Swallowing just one teaspoon of paraquat is fatal to humans, and there is no antidote. In a 2009 study, occupational exposure to paraquat was associated with a 280 percent increase in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.