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Syngenta's Monsanto Moment

As Yogi Berra might say: It’s Deja vu all over again.

Five years ago the once seemingly invincible Monsanto Co. was dealt its first searing courtroom loss over allegations that its glyphosate weed killer causes cancer and Monsanto worked to hide the risks. That loss was followed by another, and another, and the global recognition of damning internal Monsanto documents that ultimately led Monsanto owner Bayer AG to agree to pony up more than $11 billion to settle thousands of cancer claims. The litigation still lingers as Bayer wrestles with angry investors and plans to remove glyphosate-based products, such as the widely used Roundup herbicide, from the US consumer market.

Now it’s Syngenta’s turn.

The mass tort machine that took down Monsanto has set its sights on the Chinese-owned, Switzerland-based agrochemical giant and its peddling of a weed killer called paraquat. Numerous research studies have linked paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease, and plaintiffs attorneys representing people from around the United States allege Syngenta has known of these risks for decades but failed to warn users.