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Report proves that Government knew about Organophosphate poisoning in advance

November 26, 2008 2:23 PM

Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA Tim Farron MP has called on the Government to respond to the uncovering of an explosive report which shows that the health dangers associated with organophosphates were known long before the Government chose to make organophosphate sheep dips compulsory.

Organophosphates (OP) account for some 38% of total pesticide and were introduced as a sheep dip in the 1960s under various sheep scab orders. Currently sheep farmers are required to dip their sheep twice a year using an approved Government sheep dip, although OPs are no longer used.

Research has revealed that OPs can be absorbed through the skin, lungs, and eyes which can lead to long term damage such as excessive fatigue and sensory disturbance.

A working report chaired by Lord Zuckerman, published by the Government in 1951 raised concerns that OPs could be absorbed through the skin and insisted that farmers using them product must be adequately protected. Containers of OP products have consistently labelled the chemicals as potentially hazardous; but made no recommendation to wear protective clothing and equipment.

Tim Farron is questioning Hilary Benn on how the government will change its view on its own responsibility for OP poisoning in the light of this uncovered report.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"The uncovering of the Zuckerman report changes everything - it indicates that the government knew that OPs were dangerous and a risk to the health of farmers and their families before they chose to make them compulsory.

"The report made clear the dangers associated with OPs and the need for farmers to be adequately protected when coming into contact with the chemicals. But despite these warnings, no attempt was made to pass on this advice to doctors, vets and relevant consultants.

"Many GPs and hospitals have gone on to mistakenly diagnose symptoms we now believe to be connected with OP exposure as completely different conditions such as ME. The Government should conduct an accurate health assessment and they should also take responsibility for the damage caused to the health of hundreds of innocent people."