10 April 1998

Purdeys theory aired

SOMERSET farmer Mark Purdey believes that the government, after many years of dismissing his theory that BSE was triggered by the use of organophosphate warble fly dressing, could now help fund further research.

But MAFF insisted this week that no money had been promised. SEAC, governments BSE advisory committee, would assess the most recent scientific evidence, conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry with funds raised by Mr Purdey, an official said. But the ministry had no plans to fund additional research at this stage.

Mr Purdey gave evidence to the BSE inquiry last week. He said the compulsory use of the OP warblicide phosmet in the 1980s was the trigger for BSE.

Stephen Whatley, who ran the IoP trial, said tests showed that there was a 10-fold increase in the level of prion proteins, believed by many to cause BSE, on the surface of nerve cells after exposure to phosmet.

Mr Purdey said the UK was unique in that phosmet for warble erradication was used at more than three times the dose rate recommended by the manufacturer.

He added that meat and bonemeal could not be the sole cause of BSE, because it had been used extensively throughout the world yet few countries had experienced the disease in their native herds.

After the inquiry hearing, animal health firms representative body NOAH dismissed Mr Purdeys theory, claiming that warble treatment rates were the same as in other countries.

It added that OPs had been used all over the world to control external parasites, such as ticks, yet BSE was found only in Europe.