WASHINGTON – The New Lede and its managing editor, Carey Gillam, have scooped a top recognition from leading U.S. agriculture journalists for an exclusive investigative series showing a decadeslong plot by the chemical giant Syngenta to hide the risks of a notorious weedkiller.
The North American Agricultural Journalists, or NAAJ, acknowledged the nonprofit environmental news site and Gillam in its Ongoing Coverage or Series Winners for 2023. The honor was awarded for their series profiling a coverup over the widely used weedkiller paraquat and its risks.
Gillam shares the honor with Aliya Uteuova, a reporter for The Guardian who also worked on the series.
The three-part “Paraquat Papers” investigation revealed a trove of internal documents showing Syngenta, a major Swiss pesticide company, knew the health dangers of paraquat as far back as the 1960s but hid the information from regulators and the public.
The chemical can build up in human brain tissue and trigger effects recognized as hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease.
“We congratulate Carey and her team at The New Lede for being recognized for their outstanding contributions covering the impacts of agriculture on the environmental health of millions of people,” said EWG President and Co-founder Ken Cook.
“Their tireless research into Syngenta’s yearslong effort to suppress from the public the serious health risks posed by this weedkiller is not only a tour de force of investigative journalism but a win for public health and corporate accountability,” he said.
Syngenta has repeatedly claimed that scientific evidence proves its herbicide does not cause Parkinson’s disease. But the internal documents contradict that external messaging.
The papers covered in The New Lede’s scoop also show Syngenta scientists and other insiders worried as far back as the mid-1970s that the company could be liable for paraquat’s long-term, chronic effects, including Parkinson’s disease.
Gillam and The New Lede often collaborate with Uteuova and other reporters at The Guardian on stories, such as the Paraquat Papers, that are published on both news sites.
Patricia McNeeley, a longtime journalism professor and former reporter and editor, chose this year’s NAAJ winners and praised the paraquat investigative series.
“After two years of research, these reporters exposed shocking results about a company that hid studies from the Environmental Protection Agency on the toxicity of paraquat, a widely used weedkiller,” said McNeeley. “These well-written articles expose corporate secrets that show Syngenta actively misled regulators and the public for decades about paraquat’s ties to Parkinson’s.”
Full disclosure: The New Lede, which launched in May 2022, is a journalism initiative of EWG and is a distinct service that operates independently of the organization’s advocacy and communications units. EWG has no influence on editorial decision-making at The New Lede.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action