6 September 1996

OP dip licences renewed for five years

DIPS containing the organophosphates diazinon and propetamphos have had their licences renewed for a further five years despite fears that they are causing ill-health among sheep farmers.

The Veterinary Products Committee has given its seal of approval to a range of OP dips over the past two to three months after a lengthy eight-year review.

But the review of the effects of OP dips on human health, the compulsory certificate of competence for dip users and the monitoring of the whole range of sheep scab products ordered by MAFF last year has yet to be finalised. MAFF is expected to make an announcement in the next two months.

Agrochemical companies have welcomed the licensing decision, claiming the continued use of OPs such as diazinon and propetamphos will help maintain the fight against scab.

But environmental campaigners criticised the move, fearing it would lead to further illnesses among dippers.

Phil Dobson, Ciba technical services manager (animal health), said the company had recently received its fully reviewed licence for its OP-based chemical Top Clip.

"All licences have been reviewed as part of the European Commissions animal health product directorate. Individual licences have been granted over the past two to three months as the review procedure has been completed," he said.

Alison Glennon, National Office of Animal Health communications and marketing executive, confirmed the VPC had been issuing five-year licences but could not comment on individual products.

Ms Glennon claimed that latest adverse reaction figures over the past three months had shown that only one out of the 22 human adverse reactions to animal medicines had been put down to OP dips.

A spokesman for Bayer said there was still ongoing discussions over whether OP-based dips should become prescription-only medicines, a point raised by the House of Commons agriculture select committee last year.

Elizabeth Sigmund, of the OP Information Network, said she was critical of the licensing system, claiming the VPC continued to use scientific analysis from the chemical manufacturers.

Ms Sigmund also questioned whether the committee had enough knowledge of implications to human health.n