Tag Archives: Brenda Sutcliffe

Farewell Brenda Sutcliffe

23 Jan

We remember with affection and admiration, Brenda Sutcliffe, the gallant award-winning campaigner who, with her family, was seriously harmed by an OP pesticide. She died on January 18th.

brenda-award

In the picture above, we also recognise campaigners Tom Rigby (2nd left) and Peter Evans (far right – though not politically) in this picture.

brenda We celebrate Brenda’s vigorous campaigning and know that she would have been most interested in the next article – news of yet another organophosphate concern.

By coincidence a 2013 account of her work was top post this week. On the days her article was visited, the readers came from these countries on the left.

Read more about her work and that of other activists on the Sheep Dip Sufferers website set up by Tom.

 

 

 

At last: some open official recognition of the damage to health done by organophosphates

23 Feb

op sheriff payneAn inquiry into the death of Richard Westgate, a British Airways pilot, by Stanhope Payne, senior coroner for Dorset, officially recognises the damage done by organophosphate (OP) compounds in aircraft cabins. Five years ago government’s failure to admit this danger and change procedures was highlighted in Political Concern: Bad decisions by government – 11c: permitting toxic chemicals in the home, in aeroplanes, in agriculture and in warfare.

john hoyteFormer pilot John Hoyte, Chairman of the Aerotoxic Association, who experienced the devastating effects of Aerotoxic Syndrome, writes ”We believe it is the air travel dimension of OPs that is keeping it from being admitted – millions of people being daily exposed and getting ‘jetlag’.”

Many sheep farmers have suffered serious physical and mental health problems linked to exposure to OP- based sheep dips, which for many years they were legally compelled to use.

Action is long overdue, as may be seen in eight articles on the Chemical Concern website. There is a pressing need for greater awareness and recognition of their condition by government and doctors. See Paul Wright’s case:(link no longer working 15.4.16) but see FWI account of this case and of the missing document mentioned at the end of this article.

op paul wright

In 2015, the Farmers Guardian headlined the sheep dip sufferers’ continuing fight for justice. With OPs used in sheep dip from the 1970s onwards, campaigners claimed there were potentially thousands of farmers affected by OP poisoning. Sheep dipping was required by law and farmers explained there were few or, in some cases, no health and safety guidelines accompanying the chemicals.

It reported the launch of the Sheep Dip Sufferers Support Group aimed at raising awareness of the issue.

brenda with flowers

The meeting was attended by Brenda Sutcliffe, Littleborough, Rochdale, who has campaigned tirelessly for justice regarding OPs and has long claimed the chemical contributed to the death of her husband, Harold.

Most of those involved in the group had to give up farming due to illness as a result of OP poisoning. The scandal, branded ‘one of the biggest medical cover ups in history’ by members of the newly-formed, has been brought to the attention of MPs, including Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham who advised those campaigning for justice regarding organophosphate poisoning to form a single group in order to have a stronger, unified voice.

Warrington dairy farmer Tom Rigby, who is not an OP sufferer but has had a pivotal role in the formation of the group, said: “The group is for awareness. Officially the problem does not exist so we want people to see it does exist. There is a reluctance to diagnose.” Mr Rigby, who was at the initial Sheep Dip Sufferers Support Group event in Gisburn, Lancashire, last week, said awareness and help for people suffering with a disability was standard in today’s society but there was little awareness of people sensitive to OPs.

op video tom rigbyWatch video online here

On the Political Concern website: the incriminating sheep dip poisoning HSE report – officially destroyed – has now been revealed.

Government conceals evidence & denies fatal error, as victims die

22 Nov

For years ministers have denied the dangers of sheep dips despite science-based evidence. In December, farmers who have had serious health problems after exposure to organophosphate (OP) sheep dips, will meet in Westminster in a bid to have the cause of their illnesses recognised.

brenda award

Many visited this Indian website to read about the experience of Lancashire sheep farmer Brenda Sutcliffe, who, with her family, was affected by exposure to OPs and became an award-winning campaigner for all in the same situation. It was hosted by another affected farmer, Margaret Percival. Tom Rigby* is second left.

Some background events:

In 1951, a working group, led by Sir Solly Zuckerman the British government’s leading scientific adviser, produced a report for MAFF on toxic chemicals in agriculture recommending that agricultural organophosphate pesticides should be labelled as ‘deadly poison’. Nevertheless, from1976 to 1992 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made sheep dipping compulsory.

In 1976, OP containers were required to be labelled as potentially hazardous.

In the early ‘80s, a Health and Safety Executive guidance sheet MS17 was produced, saying that OP pesticides could penetrate protective clothing & that repeated exposure had irreversible cumulative neurological effects. It was never circulated to farmers, GPs, vets or hospital doctors. Christopher Booker revealed in the Telegraph and a book on the subject that a confidential report on this study was kept under lock and key.

In the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of farm workers, including wives and children, reported 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. The government denied that there was a clear link.

In 1992, Nicholas Soames, then a junior minister, announced that sheep dipping would no longer be compulsory.

In 1998, former employee of Lancashire Agricultural College, Robert Shepherd, received £80,000 in an out-of-court settlement over claims of ill-health due to agricultural organophosphate poisoning.

In 2000 and 2001 government funded more research into the effects of organophosphate exposure and poisoning. The results of some of these studies provided support for the poisoning hypothesis.

In May this year about ninety victims, experts and campaigners attended a meeting hosted by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham in London, to discuss the impact on their lives of using government-approved OP dips without adequate health warnings. *Lancashire dairy and vegetable farmer and OP campaigner Tom Rigby said: “This is the biggest human tragedy in farming in our lifetime and yet there’s a whole generation of people growing up who don’t know about it. There were hundreds of thousands of people dipping at a time when the government-approved products they were using weren’t safe”. He is calling for alternatives to OP dips to treat and eradicate sheep scab in a way that was safe for sheep and people working with them.

The December meeting is by invitation only. Anyone affected by OP poisoning should contact Tom Rigby on 01942 671 020 or email  johnsons.farm@tinyworld.co.uk

Brenda Sutcliffe: organophosphate sheep dips

10 Jun

News of the award-winning work of Brenda Sutcliffe of Sheep Bank Farm, Littleborough in Lancashire was featured on an Indian website and continues to be widely read in that country.

She has written at length about the damage done to farmers by toxic organophosphate sheep dips. It has now been lodged as a reference document with the British Library. Campaigner Peter Evans (far right) has now placed Part 4 online and it can be sent as an email attachment. CHS award brendaBrenda’s friend and fellow-campaigner, Margaret Percival, hosted the award presentation by Tom Rigby (2nd left) at Leylands Farm on the Wigan/Salford border. 

In 1976 the British government imposed a legal requirement on sheep farmers to dip their flocks with this pesticide as a precaution against sheep scab and that regulation was not lifted until 1992.

Organophosphates (OPs) are synthetic chemical compounds used in thousands of licensed pesticides.  Brenda’s whole family has been affected by OP sheep dip and for years she  has campaigned tirelessly, on behalf of many others affected, despite seriously impaired health. An article with a good account from 1992-2004 is Are our shepherds being poisoned?

sheep bank farm no caption

General information was given in the House of Lords [2009] by another victim, the Countess of Mar, and Lord Greaves, who was taken to meet Brenda at her farm on the Saddleworth Moors – the white building faintly circled on the picture above. 

The potential dangers and precautions needed were not unknown; in the 1940s it was becoming apparent that workers were suffering serious adverse health effects from OP pesticides. An inquiry was instigated and in 1951 Lord Zuckerman, a senior government advisor, issued a report in which the deadly nature of the poisons was recognised. He warned that hospitals should be notified before any OP insecticides were used in the locality and that the words  DEADLY POISON should be printed on all product labels and cans containing them. There is no evidence that his recommendations were implemented and claims were made that the more modern pesticides were much safer.

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

Sceptics are referred to the mainstream medical finding:

The Lancet : Volume 354, Number 9173, 10 July 1999

10 Jul 1999   Prolonged, low-dose exposure to organophosphorus sheep dips is linked with chronic ill-health—the most risky occupational activity seems to be handling of concentrated pesticide. These are the main findings of a report, Risks accumulate with cumulative sheep-dip exposure, by Kelly Morris, published by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM; Edinburgh).  

Due to the efforts of affected people like Brenda the use of OPs is no longer compulsory, but it is still allowed to pose a danger to pilots and passengers on long-haul flights and as an ingredient in other products. 

We salute all such ‘whistleblowers’, recognising that the health of Indian farmers and farm workers has also been seriously damaged by such products.