18 April 2000
OP discovery could benefit farmers

By FWi staff

HUNDREDS of farmers who believe they have been poisoned by organophosphate (OP) sheep dip could benefit from a scientific breakthrough.

Scientists have discovered changes in the blood of an OP victim which could make it easier for British farmers to prove that they have also been poisoned.

American researchers tested the blood of a child with OP poisoning and found physical changes providing physical evidence of neurological damage.

The research team was led by Professor Mohamed Abou-Donia, of Duke University Medical Centre, Durham North Carolina.

The breakthrough, which was reported in the Journal of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, has boosted the hopes of British OP victims.

About 800 British farmers are involved in legal action against the government, claiming they have been poisoned by OP-based sheep dips.

Prof Mohamed Abou-Donia is understood to be working on a paper concerning the effects of OP sheep dip on British producers.

Elizabeth Sigmund, of the OP Information Network, described the discovery by the American scientists as “an enormous breakthrough”.

“At last it appears there will be an objective test. It is something that we have all been waiting for,” she told Farmers Weekly.