8 March 2002

OPdip fears to fore once more

By Johann Tasker

LIB-DEM MP Paul Tyler is seeking an urgent meeting with ministers after new scientific research reignited concern about the safety of organophosphate sheep dip. A study was published in The Lancet after Nicola Cherry and a team at Manchester University demonstrated that repeated exposure to OPs may cause chronic ill-health among people with a certain genetic predisposition.

Mr Tyler, who leads a cross-party group of MPs concerned with the effect of OP pesticides on human heath said the study would "encourage victims of OP poisoning to fight on for justice". This explains why some sheep farmers, and others who come into regular contact with OPs, have been much worse affected than others.

He added: "It also gives the lie to the suggestion [by pesticide manufacturers] that the victims themselves are to blame for clumsy use of these extremely dangerous chemicals."

Mr Tyler said ministers could not escape blame either because successive governments had made OP dips compulsory until 1992. "These products were not just authorised for use – sheep farmers and others were effectively forced to use them with totally inadequate safety advice and protective clothing."

It was a tragic irony that the more hard evidence that appears the less able courts seem able to dispense justice, said Mr Tyler. "I and my colleagues in the All-Party OP Parliamentary Group are seeking an urgent meeting with the ministers responsible to explore the latest developments and to urge continued examination of the case for compensation." &#42