Call for new debate on OP poisoning

Farmers who claim to be suffering health problems caused by exposure to organophosphate sheep dips are pressing the government to reopen a debate on the issue.

Paul Wright from Skipton, north Yorkshire, has been suffering from acute psychological and neurological problems for more than 30 years following exposure to sheep dip.

He said it was like “hitting a brick wall” every time an approach was made to Whitehall in an effort to achieve official recognition of the OP poisoning issue.

“There are hundreds of us whose lives have been ruined by exposure to OP dips,” he claimed.

“We aren’t going to let this drop and will continue to fight to get recognition,” said Mr Wright.

Minister Jim Paice has recently pledged support for victims of OP poisoning but sufferers have demanded an admission from the government over approving the use of OP dips without adequate health warnings.

The Health Protection Agency is currently reviewing literature covering the use of OP compounds but campaigners who want to see a total ban said “words of warning” will not safeguard users.

It is also understood that new information to help the cause of OP campaigners may soon come to light through a request made in the House of Lords under the Freedom of Information Act.

“We need a figurehead to bring the real horror of OP poisoning into the public spotlight. It’s probably the cost of the compensation bill that’s scaring the government.

“They haven’t got the guts to admit these products should never have been approved for use.”

A statement from the NFU said that “organophosphate dips can be dangerous chemicals if not used correctly or safely”.

But the union added that protecting the health and welfare of the national sheep flock was also a priority and organophosphate dips were currently the best veterinary product to control and prevent infestation.

“If the conditions of the product licence and the manufacturers’ guidelines are adhered to during dipping, we are satisfied that the inherent risk can be minimised. If scientific evidence shows there is a remaining risk with OP products, even when the product licence and manufacturers’ guidelines are adhered to, we would need to revisit the use of OPs in controlling ectoparasitic diseases.”

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