13 May 1998
Government orders OP safety study
By Martin Hickman, Press Association
THE safety of organophosphate pesticides – claimed to have harmed farmers health – is to be reviewed, the Government disclosed last night.
Junior agriculture minister Jeff Rooker said in a Commons written reply that a study would be launched into OP pesticides approved for agricultural use under the Control of Pesticides Regulation 1986.
He stressed the move was part of an on-going, “running” review of pesticides.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) added that the decision was not motivated by public concern over OP pesticide use.
But the spokesman said the review, which would look at 24 OP and carbamate pesticides, would consider human and animal safety. It would be carried out by the Pesticides Safety Directorate and could last a year.
OP pesticides used in farming have been blamed for harming farmers nervous and immune systems, causing health problems including mood swings, memory loss, muscular malfunctioning and depression.
In March this year, the National Consumer Council voiced concern about their use on crops.
But greatest controversy has focused on their use in sheepdips, which Mr Rooker said would not form part of the review because sheepdips were “subject to scrutiny” under separate legislation.
The MAFF spokesman stressed: “The review has not been sparked off because of public concern.
“It is part of the national process of looking at products that have been approved for use to see if they still match current expectations.
“It will be looking to see whether there are any better compounds around. If we find one particular compound does not meet modern standards, then it might be taken off the list (of approved products).”
The spokesman added: “It will also look at safety in terms of human health, environmental protection, animal health and the general effectiveness of the pesticides.”