SUMMIT WILL EXAMINE IF OPS ARE A DANGER
09:00 - 27 January 2003
Environment Minister Michael Meacher has ordered a
top-level summit to
examine claims that hundreds of farmers have suffered
damage as a result of using toxic sheep dip chemicals that
mandatory for years.
The summit, to be held later this year, will
examine the scientific
evidence on the dangers posed by low-level exposure to
(OP) chemicals that have been used for many years in
particularly sheep dip.
The event will bring together
scientists, support groups and
manufacturers to discuss alleged health
problems associated with the
chemicals, whose use remains
The move follows a request from the All-Party Committee on
has been campaigning for the chemicals to be withdrawn on health
for many years.
Paul Tyler, the Lib-Dem MP for North Cornwall,
who chairs the group,
welcomed confirmation that the Government was prepared
to take a fresh
look at the evidence.
Mr Tyler said: "We have got a
ridiculous situation now where there is a
huge amount of information from
scientists and external sources, not
least what the United States are doing
in this field, but we have no
opportunity to cross-question Government
scientists or the Veterinary
does need to get a grip on where this has got to - it
is not just about
farmers. It has gone on for far too long.
"As far as farmers locally are
concerned, the legal route for
recognition and compensation has virtually
closed because of the passage
of time. This is an opportunity to get a
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Food and
Affairs, yesterday confirmed that Mr Meacher had agreed to stage
But she said the precise agenda had yet to be
She added: "We are responding to concerns about the health
OPs because it is recognised as a problem."
also confirmed that Mr Meacher had agreed to meet the
Somerset organic farmer
Mark Purdey, whose controversial theories
linking OP use to BSE have
previously been dismissed by the Government.
Liz Sigmund, a North
Cornwall-based campaigner against OPs welcomed the
news, claiming it was a
huge step forward.
She said: "In March 2000, my husband and I were
invited to meet Baroness
Hayes who was minister at the then Ministry of
Agriculture, Food and
Fisheries to discuss the impact of pesticides on human
"Since then, tremendous research has been undertaken by
universities in this country and abroad, which prove that there is
threat to human health from the OPs."
originally developed by the Nazis during the
Second Worl;d War as a nerve
Although they have proved highly effective as an insecticide, they
also been blamed for a number of serious health problems among
former sheep farmers, including nerve damage, memory loss,
pains and loss of