California paraquat ban moves forward

By Carey Gillam

California has moved a step closer to banning the controversial weed killing chemical paraquat after a key state legislative committee on Thursday allowed the measure to proceed.

The ban would take effect Jan. 1, 2026, outlawing the “use, manufacture, sale, delivery, holding, or offering for sale in commerce” of any pesticide product that contains paraquat. The bill provides for a process that allows state regulators to reevaluate paraquat and potentially reapprove it with or without new restrictions.

A chief concern cited by backers of the bill is research linking chronic paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease, an incurable and debilitating brain disease considered a top cause of death in the United States.

Several thousand farmers, agricultural workers and others are suing paraquat maker Syngenta, alleging they developed Parkinson’s because of long-term chronic effects of paraquat.

“California is the breadbasket of the nation. Farm workers put food on our table, and we should do everything we can to make their jobs safer,” California Assemblymember Laura Friedman said. “No one should run the risk of chemical exposure on the job leading to their contracting Parkinson’s disease.”

Friedman, who partnered with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to introduce the measure, said it passed “not only because banning paraquat is the right thing to do,” but also because there are “readily available, safer, affordable alternatives.”

The movement of the bill out of the appropriations committee this week now sets it up for a vote by the full Assembly next week. A vote has to be completed by Friday, May 24, in order for the measure to be moved to the state Senate for consideration. A majority of 80 Assembly members is needed to keep the bill alive.