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Program Information
BCfm documentary specials
Speech
 Bristol Broadband Co-operative  Contact Contributor
Mark Purdey and Organophosphate
(Film/Video, i-Contact, April 2000)
Organic livestock farmer Mark Purdey was ordered in the 1980's, along with all cattle and dairy farmers in the UK, to treat his cows with an organophosphate pesticide 'Phosmet' manufactured by I.C.I.. Organophosphates are derived from military nerve gas and a systemic treatment (the chemical enters the entire internal system of the cow) would undermine his organic principles so Mark refused to treat.

"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, Organic Dairy Farmer, Exmoor.

"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.

Between the late 70’s and 1982 British farmers were forced by law to treat their cows for warble fly with a pour on organophosphate called phosmet - organophosphates are derived from nerve gas formulated 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,'

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