3 January 2000
Chemical companies recall sheep dip
by FWi staff
PESTICIDE manufacturers are finalising arrangements for the mass withdrawal of organophosphate sheep dip from farm suppliers and distributors across Britain.
But chemical firms and farmers have warned that it will be difficult to abide by a government-imposed deadline and withdraw all OP dips by the end of this month.
Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman announced the product recall before Christmas after her advisors said OP containers posed a risk to farmers.
But the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), which represents chemical companies, voiced dismay that all OP dips must be returned before 31 January.
Roger Cook, NOAH director, said it was seemingly impossible for farmers to return all stocks to distributors who would then hand them back to manufacturers.
“The withdrawal will cause a logistical nightmare,” he said.
Mr Cook said the withdrawal of OP dips will “effectively introduce a ban” by removing all stock from the market before better containers can be developed.
It will take “many months before there is any hope of replacement packs being available”, he added. Even then “very few, if any, products will return.”
Many farmers have warned that some diseases in sheep could spiral out of control if OP dips are permanently withdrawn from the market.
They believe that OP dips are the most effective weapon against sheep scab and claim that alternative products leave a lot to be desired.
Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, said sheep farmers would now have to choose from a more limited range of products.
“We are particularly concerned that these requirements should not compromise animal welfare especially for those treating animals in the short term,” he said.
However, Mr Gill agreed that OP dips should be withdrawn until better containers are found to reduce the health risk to farmers from OP spillages.
But he said it was deplorable that the industry was given only until the end of January to implement the governments ruling.
“We are concerned that this is too short a period to ensure full implementation of this requirement,” he said.
The NFU has urged pesticide manufacturers to improve the design of their containers as soon as possible to comply with the governments demands.