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Researchers who found a cluster of Parkinson’s disease cases in Victoria’s north-west say there needs to be an investigation into a possible link to pesticides used by farmers.

Key points:

  • Parkinson’s rates significantly higher in Buloke, Horsham, Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack.
  • Barley and pulses are farmed in the four areas.
  • Researchers say more work needs to be done to investigate possible link to pesticides

The study by Monash University and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health found rates of Parkinson’s disease were between 34 and 78 per cent higher than average in Buloke, Horsham, Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack.

The areas were exceptions to the rule that Parkinson’s does not differ between urban and rural locations, the researchers said.

Barley and pulses — chickpeas, broad beans, lentils and vetches — are farmed in the four regions.

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The researchers said further study was needed to investigate a possible link between those farming practices and the risk of Parkinson’s.

Professor Ashley Bush said other studies had reported a greater risk of Parkinson’s in rural areas.

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“That has been linked to the use of certain sorts of pesticides, and you can generate Parkinson’s disease in an animal by exposing it to certain types of pesticides,” he said.

“So that’s one question that we have to ask.”

Parkinson’s Victoria chief executive Emma Collin said understanding what caused Parkinson’s could…

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