NEW YORK (February 6, 2019) -- Earlier this week, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) submitted a petition with 107,000 signatories, urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban paraquat, a widely used herbicide with strong scientific links to an increased Parkinson's disease (PD) risk.
"As policymakers regulate herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals, they must understand if and how these substances impact disease risk," said Ted Thompson, JD, senior vice president of public policy at MJFF. "This collective action by thousands of Parkinson's community members helps educate the EPA on paraquat's harmful connection to Parkinson's so that policymakers are informed of the latest science to protect public health."
As part of its policy to review the safety standards of all herbicides every 15 years, the EPA opened paraquat for review in 2017 and has until October 2022 to make a decision on its future use. During this period of review, the EPA evaluates available scientific literature, coordinates with relevant federal agencies, and considers letters and comments from the public. Since MJFF first opened the petition in July 2017, Parkinson's community members have steadily added their names to advocate for paraquat to be prohibited in the United States. The signatures submitted by MJFF will be included as part of the EPA's assessment of the safety of paraquat.
MJFF works to ensure policymakers understand the latest Parkinson's science to inform their decision-making and to safeguard the health of all Americans, both with and without Parkinson's disease. Paraquat has been associated with increased PD risk across many scientific studies. One such study from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California found that people exposed to paraquat at a younger age -- in their teen or young adult years -- had an increased Parkinson's risk of 100 to 500 percent, depending on overall exposure. In July 2017, the Foundation's Unified Parkinson's Advocacy Council sent a letter to the EPA detailing these and other recent scientific findings on paraquat exposure and Parkinson's risk.
"More research is needed to fully understand the complexities of Parkinson's disease, but strong data has associated several chemicals, including paraquat, with increased disease risk," said Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. "Science shows the effects of these chemicals can be mitigated, and possibly prevented, but we need the support of policymakers to remove these harmful substances that can negatively impact the health of Americans."
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research:
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $800 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world.
For more information, visit michaeljfox.org.