19 May 1995

…but health research project gets the block

CHEMICAL weapons experts have been refused a government research contract to investigate the long-term health effects of organophosphorus sheep dips.

Considering reapplication

They are now considering whether to reapply, the chief executive of the governments defence research agency told the Countess of Mar in a House of Lords written reply.

Porton Down, The Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, submitted the joint research proposal with Bristol University to a medical panel set up by government to look into the effect of OP sheep dips on human health. But it was not accepted. All 13 proposals received by the panel were rejected and the research contract has been re-advertised.

Government officials have in the past denied any link between OP sheep dips and nerve gas designed for chemical warfare.

Different structure

They claim the structure of OP dips is "significantly different" from OP nerve agents. But campaigners say the symptoms, and treatment, of acute exposure are the same.