New evidence points to OP dip ban

THE PARLIAMENTARY All Party OP Group has published a report which claims there is enough evidence for a complete ban on organophosphate-based sheep dip products.

The group of MPs has also called on the government to instruct doctors around the country in how to deal with patients suffering from the effects of exposure to OPs.

The chairman of the group, Lib-Dem MP Paul Tyler, presented junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw with the new report on Tues (Jan 25).

The document concludes that the causal link between exposure to OPs and ill-health has now been sufficiently demonstrated for the government to start putting greater emphasis on helping the victims of OP poisoning.

“Sheep-dipping with OPs has effectively been compulsory in this country, and farmers are still being told to continue using them,” said Mr Tyler.

“We want to give a sense of urgency to the authorisation and use of effective alternatives to OP dips.” He said he doubted that legal cases for compensation could be established.

Report author John Harvey, who has surveyed international research literature, said that the government should now stop commissioning new research which would cause further delays.

“We know enough about these products to take them off the market. We can’t expose human beings to the experiments that would be necessary for even more conclusive proof.

“The government must now tell doctors what to do when dealing with people who have been exposed to OPs, and it is time for an epidemiological study to establish how many across the country who have been affected.”

It is not known how many people have become chronically ill after being exposed to organophosphates. The OP Information Network, which has contributed to Mr Harvey’s report, has a register of some 800 farmers who have contacted it, but there may be many more who have either not been diagnosed or been diagnosed incorrectly.

Many doctors are unfamiliar with the symptoms of OP poisoning, and the sheer range of symptoms make the condition difficult to diagnose.