Agricultural workers across Europe are not protected from pesticides. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease or cancer, they are overlooked and undercompensated, this pan-European investigation led by Investigative Reporting Denmark reveals.

Without the presumed use of recommended safety equipment, dangerous pesticides would be banned. Yet much of the equipment — expensive, untested and rarely worn as it is — doesn’t provide effective protection.

French whistleblowing scientists have raised the alarm for more than a decade. They remain unheard. Science has shown that pesticides exposure is linked to serious and deadly illnesses for farm workers, including Parkinson’s disease and blood cancers.

Victims across Europe are struggling for recognition and compensation, as occupational disease remains a blind spot for authorities, the journalists from 13 countries show.

Today, only France and Italy officially recognise Parkinson’s disease as linked to farm work. The condition is not on the list of occupational diseases upon which the European Union recommends member states to act.

Meanwhile, the official EU agency is unable to collect and share basic statistics on health at work, the investigation reveals.

See Investigative Reporting Denmark’s dedicated project page plus profiles of journalists who are part of the environmental team. Links to stories are below. More coming soon.

Main image: A farmer, unprotected by any personal protective equipment, mixes a dangerous herbicide with water in his tractor before applying it to a wheat field in Biscarrués, Spain. Photo by Marcos Garcia Rey.

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