Phosmet link to BSE discredited by NOAH

From: Jo Makepeace (
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 13:54:10 GMT
Subject: SchNEWS 252, Friday 24th March 2000


"If Phosmet is proven to have caused BSE, the worldwide use of organophosphates (OPs) could be put into jeopardy, costing the chemical industry billions. The government know more than they're letting on. They've stuck to the scrapie theory to placate people and give the impression they've got it under control." - Mark Purdey, Dairy Farmer.

"If the government are found liable for BSE - by enforcing organophosphate treatment - the payout could break the economy." - Tom King (Purdey's MP)

Whoever the monkeys have been at the top of the tree, the Party line has stayed the same. Mad Cow Disease came about by feeding scrapie infected meat and bone meal to cows. But one West Country farmer has a different theory. One that the authorities and the pesticide producers have gone to great to lengths to silence.

Since 1982 British farmers have been forced by law to treat their cows for warble fly with a pour on organophosphate called phosmet - originally formulated as a weapon by nazi chemists during World War II. Big business soon realised its profit potential and, post war, it was exclusively marketed as an agricultural pesticide by ICI, and later their cunningly renamed subdivision Zeneca. Seeing how his own organically reared cows never developed BSE, but phosmet-treated cattle brought onto the farm did, Somerset dairy farmer Mark Purdey refused to treat his herd. In 1984 MAFF took him to the High Court, but lost.

"Before 1982 farmers could treat warbles with an organic ground-up root compound called Derris. This was outlawed, so they could sell more organophosphates," said Purdey. Organophosphates, used to treat headlice in school children, have been implicated as a potential cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Purdey managed to alleviate symptoms in a BSE infected cow by injecting oxime, an antidote to pesticide poisoning. The cure was never completed as MAFF turned up and destroyed the cow. Unconvinced by the accepted cause of BSE and CJD, Purdey set about studying how disease clusters reflected OP usage. He found Britain, the only country enforcing phosmet use, to have the highest rate of disease. Ireland had some BSE, but OP use was voluntary, and given at a lower dose. Brittany (France) began to develop BSE following an enforced phosmet trial, and human new variant CJD was clustered in Kent's Wield Valley, where hop and top fruit growth gets saturated with organophosphates.

Agitated by Purdey's discoveries, the pesticide industry hit back. The dubiously named National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), a lobby group representing the UK animal medicine industry, whose membership reads like a Downing St dinner party invite list of extremely dodgy chemical interests - including Bayer, Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Schering-Plough etc - published documents discrediting Purdey's work. NOAH produced an independent expert, Dr David Ray, for the BSE Inquiry, who turned out to be receiving funding from Zeneca for his Medical Research Council toxicology unit. "I don't think this affected my judgement," Ray told SchNEWS. "You may not believe it, but I didn't realise Zeneca produced phosmet at the time." Hmmm. In March 1996 - one week before the UK government admitted to a link between BSE and new variant CJD - Zeneca sold the phosmet patent to a PO Box company in the Arizona desert. As Ray said: "Zeneca are not keen to be sued."


Whether Purdey is a genius or a paranoiac, MAFF's continued reluctance to explore the OP link to BSE is significant. "Anyone with a suitable proposal can approach MAFF for funding," a spokesman told SchNEWS. However, Brown had to stop his research for lack of cash, as did another chemist, conducting similar tests, a year ago.

More sinister is the attention Purdey, and those who have taken up his theory, has received. His house mysteriously burnt down, and a barn collapsed onto his science library. He's been shot at, and following the publication of a 1993 Independent article, he awoke to find his telephone lines cut - preventing him receiving follow up media calls. Strangers, with in depth knowledge of his movements, appear on his farm, freak his wife out and tail him when he travels. The solicitor who defended Purdey's High Court action died when his car went inexplicably out of control. Purdey's vet (who said this theory should be taken seriously) was killed in what the local rag described as: 'Mystery vet death riddle,' when his car was 'magnetised' into the front of an oncoming lorry on a clear straight road. "I'm easier to marginalise as a crank," says Purdey. "But these people were professionals."

Anyone familiar with the start of the anti nuclear movement may recall the discrediting of Alice Stewart, who discovered the link between radiation and cancer. Scientists who aligned themselves with her had their cars rammed off the road. In 1978 four children belonging to anti-herbicide activist Carol Van Strum were killed in a house fire in Five Rivers, USA.

Purdey has managed to secure an April meeting with Food Safety Minister, Baroness Hayman. MAFF are at last wishing to at least appear to be listening...or are they? David Ray described parts of the theory as 'implausible'. Though perhaps more plausible than Ray's own recent appointment to the Veterinary Medicines Committee - the 'independent body' responsible for ensuring the safety of chemicals such as phosmet.

* The BSE Inquiry is due to report on March 31st [2000] - look out for the absence of OP complicity.

* - more on David Ray and the 'intellectual corruption' that's rife in the research and licensing of veterinary medicines

from SchNEWS 252, 24 March 2000

spooks   |   weed's home page

comments to
revised 24 November 2005