By Joe Cook

My background and heritage are in production agriculture across Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming. I am named after my grandfathers- Joseph Cook and Patrick Goggins- both of whom dedicated their lives to production agriculture. My Montana State FFA and American FFA degrees hang beside my law degree on my office wall.

With my background, I am not one to be critical of producers utilizing the tools they need and that are available. Quite to the contrary, I know better than most the vital role that herbicides play in keeping farms and ranches producing. What I am highly critical of, however, are corporate board rooms that put profits ahead of full disclosure and the bottom line above the safety and welfare of us and our neighbors.

Paraquat (commonly sold as Gramoxone) is the “blue” herbicide that has been used by farmers and ranchers for decades to burndown fields and control invasive weeds. Today, as it has for decades, the warning label on Paraquat products tells users that ingesting Paraquat “may be fatal.” What is egregious is what the warning label omits—that numerous studies have linked long-term Paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease and disabling neurological degeneration. Parkinson’s is a disabling, degenerative disease for which there are few good treatments, and no known cure. In other words, Paraquat doesn’t just kill, it tortures. And you don’t have to drink it to get sick, you simply have to be exposed to it over time.

Before you spray the next tank of Paraquat, or as you care for a loved one who was exposed to Paraquat out in the field and now suffers from Parkinson’s disease, I would like you to consider the following: (1) Paraquat is banned in over 32 countries including the European Union, Switzerland and China, (2) Paraquat exposure mimics Parkinson’s so well in mice that it is actually used to model the disease in lab studies, (3) people exposed to Paraquat in their teens and young adult years have up to a 600% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Now that the truth about Paraquat’s lethal link to Parkinson’s disease has been released, hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of lawsuits have been filed. Those lawsuits are all being consolidated before a single judge in Illinois. If you or a loved one suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was exposed to Paraquat, the time to act is now, because the window to hold the manufacturer accountable is closing.

Joe Cook is a partner at Heenan & Cook in Billings, Montana  Mr. Cook is one of the top trial lawyers in Montana, and was named the 2021 Montana Trial Lawyer of the Year. Joe has dedicated his legal career to fighting for Montanans- particularly those in rural Montana.