Paraquat is among the most widely used pesticide for weed control. Its adverse health effects are recognised, and industrialised countries that allow paraquat use all recommend stringent precautions. But these conditions cannot be guaranteed in developing countries. The leading manufacturer, Syngenta, now shares the market with other companies, and all target sales in Asia and Latin America, where public interest groups have called for a phase out because of health concerns. In December 2011, Syngenta along with other agrochemical transnational corporations were found guilty of gross human rights violations by a Session of the Permanent People's Tribunal.
Syngenta sells the pesticide globally under the brand name Gramoxone. It is extensively used on bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapple, rubber, and sugar cane - in plantations and small-scale farms. Paraquat is highly acutely toxic, with no known antidote. Less than one teaspoon, if ingested, is fatal. It is also blamed for causing severe acute and long term health problems such as severe dermatitis, kidney failure, respiratory failure, rapid heart rate, second degree burns, skin cancer and Parkinson's disease. For more information, see the paraquat monograph or paraquat factsheet.
Paraquat formulations containing at least 20% active ingredient have been recommended for inclusion in the Rotterdam Convention.
Non-chemical weed management alternatives such as intercropping abound. PAN Germany produced a field guide on "How to Grow Crops without Paraquat" in contribution to the campaign in Asia and these are being distributed.