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Fifty Years of Secrets: How Chemical Giant Syngenta Hid the Truth About a Dangerous Weedkiller

Carey Gillam reports:

“For decades, Swiss chemical giant Syngenta has manufactured and marketed a widely used weed-killing chemical called paraquat, and for much of that time the company has been dealing with external concerns that long-term exposure to the chemical may be a cause of the dreaded, incurable brain ailment known as Parkinson’s disease…

The New Lede is publishing a story that examines what Syngenta knew about the evolving science linking the pesticide to the disease. The story is based on hundreds of pages of internal corporate records that reveal conversations between scientists and executives dating back to the late 1950s. (See, search and download documents in the Paraquat Papers Library.)

The files demonstrate that while Syngenta has repeatedly told customers and regulators that scientific research does not prove a connection between its weed killer and the disease, the public narrative put forward by the company and the corporate entities that preceded it has at times contradicted the company’s own research and knowledge.

The documents also lay out how Syngenta crafted strategies to defend paraquat and counter independent researchers who were finding more and more evidence that paraquat may cause Parkinson’s, including development of an ‘influencing’ strategy ‘that proactively diffuses the potential threats that we face’ and to ‘maintain and safeguard paraquat registrations.’ The strategy ‘must consider how best to influence academia, and regulatory and NGO environments.‘”

Learn more: 50 Years of Secrets Revealed