HomeEnvironmentSustainable Food SystemParaquat, the Deadliest Chemical in US Agriculture, Goes on Trial

    Paraquat, the Deadliest Chemical in US Agriculture, Goes on Trial

    The herbicide paraquat was sold to farmers as revolutionary. Its introduction into the marketplace in 1962 coincided with a growing awareness of overplowing soil, year after year, until it degrades. Looking to avoid another Dust Bowl, farmers were eager for ways to keep their soil intact. Chevron, a distributor of paraquat at the time, jumped on this opportunity, claiming the chemical was necessary for “no-till” farming. The idea, as Chevron branded it, was relatively simple: You don’t need a plow when there’s a toxicant that can kill any weed, disrupting the very process of photosynthesis, prepping a field without moving the soil.

    A 1972 ad from No-Till Farmer for paraquat that says “Let Paraquat be your plow.” (Photo from No-Till Farmer)

    “Let paraquat be your plow,” a 1972 Chevron advertisement in No Till Farmer, the leading resource on no-till methods, urged…

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    Civil Eats
    Civil Eats
    Daily news and commentary about the American food system.


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