14 July 2000
Fears that lindane is linked to cancer

By David Green

THE European Unions Standing Committee on Plant Health has voted to withdraw the pesticide lindane from agricultural use.

The vote, supported by Britain, was in Brussels on Thursday (13 July).

Government officials have been examining the few remaining uses of lindane which has been suspected of causing cancer in humans.

A pressure group in Lincolnshire claims there could be a link between high incidence of the disease and intensive farming in the county.

The Lincolnshire Against Cancer group says it has an open mind about the cause of a cluster of local cases of breast cancer and other types of the disease.

But it claims that exposure to pesticides is one possible explanation in an area of intensive agricultural and horticultural activity.

The survey is being organised on behalf of LAC by Maureen Dennis, a farmers daughter who worked in agricultural planting gangs for many years.

Ms Dennis contracted cancer some years ago and believes it may have been linked to pesticide exposure.

The campaign group is being advised by Andrew Watterson of Stirling University, co-ordinator of an occupational and environmental health group.

Prof Watterson said a study in parts of Canada had shown above average incidence of breast cancer in an area of high pesticide use.

“Where there are known carcinogens in the environment we should be doing our best to minimise exposure to them,” he said.

The survey, to be conducted in the Boston area, has been welcomed by Richard Body local MP, a former member of the agriculture select committee.

Sir Richard, MP for Boston and Skegness, said many women working in agriculture and horticulture came into contact with pesticides such as lindane.

He added: “I suspect there may be a link with the higher than average cancer rates around here.”

But Richard Trow-Smith of the Crop Protection Association, said information so far from cancer specialists had failed to find a link with pesticide exposure.