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Broken Britain 19: poor redress for war veterans damaged by government policy

At last, the case of people whose health has been seriously damaged caused by infected blood bought by a government agency is coming to the fore. But the plight of farmers, whose health suffered because government compelled them to use organophosphate sheep dips, is yet to be addressed – many affected veterans and farmers have died after long suffering.

OP-affected Richard Bruce writes: Dr Davis and Dr Ahmed wrote some informative papers on the subject. One may be read here: https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-functional-magnetic-resonance-imaging-fmri/

Allowed to sink into obscurity

In 1996 Defence minister Nicholas Soames confirmed that many of the soldiers returning from the Gulf War reporting fatigue, memory loss, weakness, joint and muscle pain and depression – a condition now known as Gulf War Syndrome, had been exposed to some sort of organophosphate pesticide.

From the archives:

1999: the US Government accepted that their veterans’ illnesses were mostly due to service in the Gulf. Of their 700,000-plus troops deployed there, 88% became eligible for benefits through their equivalent of the Veterans Agency and 45% had by then sought medical care. The US Government also accepted the extremely serious consequences of using organophosphates.

2000-2001: the UK government funded more research into the effects of organophosphate exposure and poisoning. The results of some studies provided support for the poisoning hypothesis but the research was delayed by the FMD outbreak and only completed in 2007.

2004:  A study published in the British Medical Journal: ‘Overcoming apathy in research on organophosphate poisoning, concluded that high rates of pesticide poisoning in developing countries and increasing risk of nerve gas attacks in the West mean effective antidotes for organophosphates should be a worldwide priority.

2008: the American government concluded an intensive study into the cause of “Gulf War Syndrome” Their $400,000 study found that OPs had causal responsibility for the harm inflicted. This finding was reported to the British Government by the Chief of Defence Staff [RAF].

Conflicts of interest: those campaigning for a ban on organophosphate pesticides have to face opposition from the agro-chemical industry, whose representatives sit on expert committees advising governments on pesticide safety.

As the Countess of Mar explained: There seems to be a nucleus of about 25 individuals who advise on a number of committees. The scientific community is very close-knit and because the numbers of individuals in specialties is small, they will all know one another. They are dependent upon one another for support, guidance, praise and recognition. If they wish to succeed, they must run with the prevailing ethos of their group, department or specialism Hansard 24 Jun 1997: Columns 1555-9

The Scotsman reported the findings of the 2004 independent inquiry into illnesses suffered by veterans of the first Gulf War which was headed by the former law lord Lord Lloyd of Berwick, called on the Ministry of Defence finally to recognise the existence of a “Gulf War syndrome”. It said that it was clear the cocktail of health problems suffered by an estimated 6,000 veterans were a direct result of their service in the 1991 conflict and urged the MoD to establish a special fund to make one-off compensation payments to those affected.

Is the long and inhumane delay due to the fact that the establishment of a link between Gulf War Syndrome and organophosphate poisoning would cost the MoD vast sums in compensation?

 

 

 

 

 

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Bad decisions by government – 11a: failure to compensate farmers whose health has been damaged by a government imposed requirement

  

Author: self-made

 

Organophosphates (OPs) are a group of synthetic chemical compounds, Originally developed as insecticides and now used in thousands of licensed pesticides head lice treatments, pet shampoos and other household products. They were developed as neurotoxins during the Second World War. Sarin – the poison gas released by Aum Shinrikyo cultists in 1995 onto the Tokyo underground – is the most well-known organophosphate-based chemical weapon.         

  

  

EVENTS    

1951:  Dr Solly Zuckerman – later appointed as chief scientific adviser to the British Government – wrote a report recommending that agricultural organophosphate pesticides should be labelled as ‘deadly poison’, but the report was sidelined.    

Solly Zuckerman,Tobruk 1943

1976: OP containers were required to be labelled as potentially hazardous – but no recommendations about protective clothing or other precautions were provided.      

1976 to 1992: government imposed a requirement on sheep farmers to dip their flocks using organophosphates as a precaution against sheep scab.     

1980: the HSE guidance sheet, known as MS17, was produced but never circulated to farmers, doctors, vets, or the Ministry of Defence.     

1980 –1990+: hundreds of farm workers began to report symptoms including fatigue, memory loss, weakness, joint and muscle pain and depression, which they put down to low-level exposure to organophosphates over long periods of time.     

1996: Dr Goran Jamal won a Freedom of Information Award. In 1994, as a consultant neurologist, he had been invited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to serve on the Medical and Scientific Panel which advises the government’s Veterinary Products Committee about the safety of sheep dips. Dr Jamal chose to resign from the panel, rather than accept restrictions on his ability to give evidence about their hazards in court.     

1998: a former employee of Lancashire Agricultural College, Robert Shepherd was poisoned by pesticides. His health was damaged by regular exposure to organophosphate sheep dip at work and had to take retire in 1991. With the help of his trade union, UNISON, in 1998 he won an out-of-court settlement of £80,000.      

2009: New research published by Defra has revealed the extent to which even low level exposure to organophosphate (OP) sheep dip appears to have caused health problems in farmers. An extensive study involving 132 farm workers with a history of using OPs before 1991 found they are suffering today from a range of physical, mental and emotional problems.  Dr Mackenzie-Ross, of University College London, said “Defra’s advice should stress OPs should be a last resort and that other chemicals can be used.”      

But Defra said “The results of this report do not definitively demonstrate organophosphates cause chronic ill-health, but suggest that a relationship may exist.” It ruled out using taxpayers’ money to compensate victims ‘when the current independent advice is that a link between long-term, low-level OP exposure and ill health has not been proven’.      

After years of delay, the Survey of Health and Pesticide Exposure (SHAPE), led by Tony Fletcher of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Study of Health in Agricultural Workers (SHAW), led by Andrew Povey of the University of Manchester, were published on the Defra website.     

Alongside the study by Dr Mackenzie-Ross, they provide compelling new evidence regarding the serious health problems OPs appear to have caused in farmers who have used them. 

COMMENT 

John Hoyte, Chairman Aerotoxic Association, writes to PCU today: 

We believe it is the air travel dimension of OP’s that is keeping it from being admitted – millions of people being daily exposed and getting ‘jetlag’.   See www.aerotoxic.org

Bad decisions by government – 11b: failure to compensate soldiers whose health was damaged on active service

EVENTS

1996: defence minister Nicholas Soames confirmed that many of the soldiers returning from the Gulf War reporting fatigue, memory loss, weakness, joint and muscle pain and depression – a condition now known as Gulf War Syndrome, had been exposed to some sort of organophosphate pesticide .

1999: the US Government accepted that their veterans’ illnesses were mostly due to service in the Gulf. Of their 700,000-plus troops deployed there, 88% became eligible for benefits through their equivalent of the Veterans Agency and 45% had by then sought medical care. The US Government had also accepted the extremely serious consequences of using organophosphates.

2000-2001: the UK government funded more research into the effects of organophosphate exposure and poisoning. The results of some studies provided support for the poisoning hypothesis but the research was delayed by the FMD outbreak and only completed in 2007.

2004:  A study published in the British Medical Journal: Overcoming apathy in research on organophosphate poisoning, concluded that high rates of pesticide poisoning in developing countries and increasing risk of nerve gas attacks in the West mean effective antidotes for organophosphates should be a worldwide priority

2008: the American government concluded an intensive study into the cause of “Gulf War Syndrome” Their $400,000 study was published last November – it found that OPs had causal responsibility for the harm inflicted. This finding was reported to the British Government by the Chief of Defence Staff [RAF].

Conflicts of interest 

Those who are convinced of the dangers and are campaigning for a ban on organophosphate pesticides have to face opposition from the agro-chemical industry, whose representatives sit on expert committees advising governments on pesticide safety.

As the Countess of Mar explained: There seems to be a nucleus of about 25 individuals who advise on a number of committees. The scientific community is very close-knit and because the numbers of individuals in specialties is small, they will all know one another. They are dependent upon one another for support, guidance, praise and recognition. If they wish to succeed, they must run with the prevailing ethos of their group, department or specialism Hansard 24 Jun 1997: Columns 1555-9 

Compensation

The establishment of a link between Gulf War Syndrome and organophosphate poisoning could cost the MoD and its counterparts in other Gulf War coalition member states large sums in compensation.

If a government were to ban organophosphate products, it would have to pay compensation to the chemicals industry for withdrawing licences (Marketing Authorisations) that have already been issued. At present, the government’s position remains that organophosphate pesticides are safe, if used in line with the manufacturers’ instructions. A certification and registration scheme exists for ensuring that those using organophosphate products understand how to do this,

 Campaigners

Amongst those actively campaigning on these subjects for years are Brenda Sutcliffe, a Lancashire sheep farmer whose whole family has been affected by this chemical, Councillor Peter Evans, Paul Tyler – Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Organophosphates and Pesticides, and chaired the All Party Group on Organophosphates while he was an MP, and more recently, MP Tom Watson

THE LAST WORD:

Rt Hon Lord Morris of Manchester Speech: Gulf War Veteran’s Conference, Birmingham, 9 May 2007 

alf morris.jpgThere is no higher duty for the parliamentarian than to act justly to those prepared to lay down their lives for this country and the dependants of those who do so. Gulf Veterans say that has not yet been done and I am reminded of the saying of American veterans that “a nation can’t afford to do right by its veterans can’t afford to go to war”. Ours is the fourth richest economy in the world and we most certainly can afford, in Tom Watson’s words, “an honourable settlement” with Gulf War veterans.

PCU adds that parliamentarians should also act justly to those whose health has been seriously damaged in providing food – essential to life.

 

 

 

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