Pesticide Poisoning and the Global Epidemic of Parkinsonism

Poisoned Land: The Rural Rise of Parkinsonism

DW (2021)

Film Review

In the age of Covid, it so happens that the pandemic of Parkinson’s Disease is genuine. The global incidence of Parkinsonism, a severely disabling neurological disorder (involving tremors, difficulty moving, walking and swallowing, pain, incontinence, dementia and depression) is soaring.

As elsewhere California’s Central Valley, which grows 25% of America’s vegetables are grown, is experience multiple clusters of the disease. Owing to a 1970s California law, all farmers in the state must report all pesticide. At present, this register reveals a 75% increase of Parkinsonism in residents living adjacent to fields using toxic pesticides.

Scientists are investigating two dozen pesticides for a possible causative role in Parkinson’s disease. The herbicide Paraquat and the fungicide Mangozeb have both been banned in the EU.

German farmers interviewed in the film continue to use pesticides despite being aware of the risk. They say they can’t afford not to use them unless the German government bans cheap imports from other countries that also use pesticides.

In France, Parkinsonism has been listed as an occupational disease (owing to its link to pesticide use) since 2012. French vineyards spray their grapes with pesticides 30-40 times a year, and French wine has been found to contain between nine and sixteen different pesticide residues.

Other studies have found pesticides in milk and air studies of big cities and pristine old growth forests.

I had problems with the sound quality of the YouTube video. The film can also be seen at

3 thoughts on “Pesticide Poisoning and the Global Epidemic of Parkinsonism

  1. The link between Parkinsonism and psychiatry has a long history, and environmental toxins, like organophosphates, like malathion, are known neurotoxins.

    In residency, I worked in a neuropsychiatry unit, with patients who developed psychosis from Parkinsonism, believed to be caused by damage to the basal ganglia of the brain, which controls motor function. The challenge for psychiatry was to provide dopamine agonists, to improve motor function, but modulate that with dopamine antagonists to counteract the psychosis.

    I watched the entire documentary with interest, especially since overproduction is causing so much poisonous waste that is affecting all life, nlt just human life. Locally, the county government, in cahoots with the federal government, and the Army Corps of Engineers, sprays the marsh with malathion, an organophosphate and neurotoxin, to control mosquitoes.

    I think it’s especially sad in light of the fact that Army Corps of Engineers Walter Reed and William Gorgas managed to finish digging the Panama Canal by draining the swamps that bred mosquitoes and spread yellow fever and malaria.

    Locally, the county no longer maintains its drainage ditches, so we are regular victims of flooded streets and buildings, as well as mosquitoes, rats, and fleas. Meanwhile, there has been a decline in pollinators, like bees and butterflies. I haven’t seen a lightning bug since I was a child.


    • I agree that the poisoning is ominous, as well as ubiquitous. Pesticides represent only one class of environmental poisons resulting from the toxic overproduction and waste generated by the industrial age. Plastics and packaging constitute another but related assault on the environment, on short term and long term health of all life forms. That the oil industry, the chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry are so closely intertwined leaves nothing outside their reach.


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