Popular POM juice producer among California's leading users of paraquat

Toxic weedkiller, linked to Parkinson’s, banned in over 60 countries

SACRAMENTO – The Wonderful Company, California-based maker of the popular pomegranate juice POM, is the state’s second-largest user of paraquat – a toxic herbicide banned in over 60 countries – a new Environmental Working Group investigation finds. 

Studies have found a strong connection between paraquat exposure and an elevated risk of Parkinson’s disease. The chemical has also been linked with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and childhood leukemia. 

“Despite The Wonderful Company’s claims to eschew ‘dangerous chemicals,’ its actions are unnecessarily endangering farmworker communities throughout California,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs and co-author of the analysis. “With dozens of countries banning paraquat due to its health hazards, it's clear that use of the chemical is unnecessary for crop production.”

Wonderful’s brands include POM pomegranate juice, Landmark Vineyards wine and Fiji Water, among many others.

In 2021 alone, Wonderful sprayed more than 56,000 pounds of paraquat on California fields where it grows pistachios, almonds and pomegranates, according to state and county records analyzed by EWG. 

EWG is sponsoring state legislation, introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), that would ban the use of paraquat in California by January 2026. 

Paraquat is mostly used by U.S. growers to clear fields of weeds and leftover crops before planting almonds, corn, peanuts, soybeans, wine grapes and other crops. The herbicide can remain in soil for years.  

It can also linger in dust or drift on air currents, creating exposure risks for residents in nearby communities. A recent EWG investigation found that Latinos in some California communities with high poverty rates are exposed to far higher amounts of paraquat than people elsewhere.

“Decades of research have demonstrated that paraquat is connected to serious health harms,” said Olga Naidenko Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations. “That’s particularly true for those in proximity to application and storage of this pesticide, including farmworkers, their families and people who live, work and study near agricultural areas where it’s being sprayed.”

Only the J.G. Boswell Company, a major crop grower, used more paraquat in California than Wonderful in 2021. Boswell applied more than 58,000 pounds of paraquat on cotton, tomatoes and other crops. 

Together the two companies sprayed 27 percent of all the paraquat used in California that year, EWG’s latest investigation found. 

Syngenta, paraquat’s manufacturer, has for decades hidden its knowledge of the chemical’s health risks. 

The New Lede, an independent journalism initiative of EWG, and The Guardian recently revealed that Syngenta actively sought to mislead Environmental Protection Agency regulators about the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s.

The EPA has dismissed such research, including in its latest review of the chemical, released in February. The agency also ignores the risk of exposure for people working living on or near farms.

“To protect farmworkers and others fully, the EPA must follow the science and ban the use of paraquat,” Faber said. “But states shouldn’t wait for the federal action. To protect their residents and public health, California and other states should follow the lead of more than 60 countries and ban paraquat as soon as possible.” 


The Environmental Working Group 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.

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