MPs call for return of OP dip

23 May 2000

MPs call for return of OP dip

By FWi staff

ORGANOPHOSPHATE sheep dip should be allowed back onto the market as soon as possible, a cross-party group of MPs has told the government.

The House of Commons Agriculture Select Committee believes the dips should be sold again as long as the safety of farmers and workers is not impeded.

New containers which reduce exposure should be introduced before the dip is made available again, said the committee.

Committee chairman David Curry (Con) told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme: “We accept that there was a problem with faulty containers.

“We would like to see the whole business of checking containers and making sure theyre safe done as rapidly as possible so farmers can have OP products again.”

The government is under no obligation to follow the advice. But the recommendation will increase the pressure on ministers to lift their ban on OPs.

Junior farm minister Baroness Hayman announced the withdrawal of OP dips last December until new containers were introduced to reduce operator exposure.

The move caused outrage among dip manufacturers and many sheep farmers, who said that the controversial ban would cause animal welfare problems.

Many livestock producers believe OP dips are the most effective means of controlling common ecto-parasites in sheep such as scab and blow-fly.

John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said the MPs decision that the products should now return was a “triumph for good sense”.

“We compliment the committee on taking the government to task and look forward to OPs being available to the sheep industry as a matter of urgency.”

Roger Cook, director of the National Office of Animal Health, which represents manufacturers of animal medicines, also welcomed the news.

It was a mistake for the minister ever to have banned the sale of OP dips without apparently taking into account the effect on animal welfare, he said.

“No decision should be a single issue decision,” he told Farmers Weekly “You have to look at all the aspects or you just get into a muddle.”

Manufacturers of OP dips met with the governments Veterinary Products Committee last week in a bid to prove that the chemicals could be handled safely.

But Lib Dem MP Paul Tyler, who has chaired the All-Party OP group since 1992 said the MPs “had ducked the real issue”.

He said it was “criminal folly” to argue over the design of containers instead of striving to find safer alternatives to OPs.

Mr Tyler warned: “If the committees report leads to renewed complacency about the known toxicity of these pesticides, then it will be counter-productive.”

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