Following an unprecedented court action in Sweden, it is possible that paraquat might soon be banned throughout the entire European Union. The major active ingredient in Gramoxone, this chemical has been used extensively by North American growers since I first started covering no-till back in 1972.
Even though it has been replaced to a large extent by glyphosate, paraquat still plays a key role in no-till production on many North American farms.
While paraquat use has been banned in Sweden since 1983, it was added to the European Community’s list of authorized substances in 2003 after an intensive review by the group’s pesticide safety directorate. But in 2004, Sweden, supported by Austria, Denmark and Finland where paraquat is also banned, asked the European Court to remove paraquat from the list of acceptable pesticides. These countries argued that the review procedure was faulty and failed to protect the environment and human and animal health, claims that the court largely upheld in a recent ruling.
With the recent court ruling, the European Commission or any of its member countries had 70 days to file an appeal against this decision, a move that was expected to occur.
Paraquat was developed and manufactured by former firms that now fall under the Syngenta umbrella. While Syngenta officials say they were surprised by the court’s decision, another surprise was the court’s ruling to not allow the continued use of the product use while the ruling is under appeal. The Syngenta staffers maintain…