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Friday, 26 November, 1999, 17:32 GMT
Sheep dip: The reaction
Sheep Campaigners say sheep dip damages health

The decision of a committee of experts that there is no proven link between low level exposure to organophosphates (OPs) used in sheep dip and serious medical problems has prompted dismay from campaigners against their use.

Mark Purdy, an organic farmer and long-term campaigner against the use of OPs, said he was "very disappointed" by the committee's finding.

He said: "It has been well known that chronic low dose organophosphate poisoning has been enshrined in the medical literature since the 1960s.

"I cannot understand why there is this doubt that these chemicals at a low dose are causing this kind of effect."

Mr Purdy said all those who suffered from OP poisoning suffered from the same type of symptoms.

These, he said, included:

  • Personality changes, including anxiety depression, withdrawal and suicidal tendencies
  • Tremors
  • Dyslexia
  • Hallucinations
  • Central nervous system damage

"What is more, it is known that you can do brain electro-encephalograph tests that will pick up on the organophosphate damage to the brain."

Mr Purdy said the new report was a stalling tactic, and that the government was simply trying to avoid admitting there was a problem because it feared being held liable.

'Walking wounded'

Beef and sheep farmer Jim Candy, from south east Cornwall, said OPs damaged his nervous system and left him "walking wounded".

He claimed farmers had died as a result of exposure to OPs, while others would be unable to express their disappointment at the findings of the report because their brains no longer functioned properly.

He said: "I was hoping to get a much stronger report that would finally nail this problem down so the Government would be able to instigate an immediate ban on OPs.

"I think the report asks as many questions as it answers. It talks about research needed on people with chronic exposure to OPs claiming ill health problems.

"Surely this is the sort of research that ought to have been covered by this committee."

Mr Candy claimed that as a result of using OPs he had periods of depression, lethargy, nausea and whole body tremors which could last for days.

He said: "Basically, my nervous system has been irreparably damaged by organophosphate poisoning."

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26 Nov 99 |  Health
Jury out on sheep dip

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