Greening the North Writer’s Award – news from England

Greening the North: set up some years ago at CHS in Bandra 

Greening the North was set up to assist in a very small way, the changes in the North which CHS’ co-founder Winin Pereira said must come. It was named after the book, Greening the North, written by members of Germany’s Wuppertal Institute, one of whom – Wolfgang Sachs – had visited him some years ago. This book confirmed his belief that beneficial change in the industrialised countries was not only urgently needed but achievable.

On Monday organic dairy farmer Tom Rigby [opposite] will present a GTN Writer’s Award  to Brenda Sutcliffe of Sheep Bank Farm Littleborough, Lancashire UK, seen here with a booklet she wrote about the damage done to farmers by toxic organophosphate sheep dips. It has now been lodged as a reference document with the British Library.

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? 


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, Kelly Morris, published by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM; Edinburgh, UK).  

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 has also been seriously damaged by such products.






7 responses to “Greening the North Writer’s Award – news from England


    NFU, NSA, GWU, HSE, NHS, Police and MPs cover up over 1,000 dead in the UK
    with Organophosphate Poisoning, the authorities silence speak evil.

    George Wescott. Victim and campainer.

  2. Congratulations Brenda!
    I would like to tell you my story about Brenda. She contacted me in 2001 when I had a letter published in Pesticide Action Network asking if anyone had information about organophosphate poisoning as my son had been poisoned by an insect spray containing dichlorvos and iodophenphos. He had used 3/4 of a litre on an ants nest and had gradually fallen ill. She put me in touch with other people who had been poisoned and we have all kept in touch to this day. Brenda has campaigned everyday, writing letters and telephoning authorities, being a thorn in their sides, never taking no for an answer and never giving up.
    She is always ready to help in any way she can and I have always looked forward to her calls and letters of encouragement over the years because the illnesses caused by these poisons do not go away, they get slowly worse as time goes by.
    When will we see the medical profession speak out and treat the chronically poisoned? Their silence has been a disgrace and makes a mockery of their oath to “do no harm” The very people who should be helping the sick turn their backs and appear to be in the pay of the chemical companies.

  3. Brenda first came to my notice when I became a Councillor in the Ward where Brenda lives. People were deriding her and it was not long before I began to investigate further. I read the Zuckerman Report Part 1 1951 and noted that a main contributor was our Medical Research Council (MRC). I was intriged by the number of further studies commissioned by our Government that repeated the work already done by the MRC – costing taxpayers £millions. It suggested to me that the authorities did not like the findings! Yet there has never been any inaccuracy found in the Zuckerman Report and still to this day, no correction has been found warranted or justified. Of course this means that the 20+ years age of the original report has lost its authority in scientific terms. The chemical companies must be laughing all the way to the bank!
    We now know that the Gulf War Syndrome study done in the USA concluded that “OP exposure is the causal effect” of the condition – Report dated November 2008.
    We know that in Britain and Australia there are groups of aircrew who suffer the irreversible effects of OP poisoning, due to leaking oil filters on aircraft, who have had to retire on ill-health.
    Brenda Sutcliffe has been in the vanguard in searching for the truth and publishing her findings that are referred to by Professors who readily acknowledge that Brenda “probably knows more than anyone about the effects of OP poisoning.
    I have found it a privilege to assist Brenda and Chair the Op Action Group NW meetings. I hope and trust that we will see a common sense breakthrough soon so that the huge number of sufferers most of whom never receive the appropriate medical treatment are finally recognised in order that they can gain some relief by being given the proper treatment for their sufferings.
    Brenda is an icon of good sense and her compassion for OP poison victims and I cannot praise her too highly.

  4. Richard Fell FFARCS

    Anaesthetists sometimes encounter difficulties after using muscle relaxant drugs in country districts because some patients in agricultural districts have cholinesterase deficiency. The connection between organophosphates used as therapy in the treatment of Glaucoma and difficulty in reversing the effects of muscle relaxants in such patients was established quite soon after the introduction of this treatment.
    The probability that these two facts are connected is inescapable.
    In other words, a major exposure to organophosphates is not a pre-requisite to the development of abnormalities at nerve-cellular level. Abnormalities can happen after minor, repeated exposures to organo-phosphates.
    Minor repeated exposures of children to flea-collars (insecticides) have been shown to increase the likelihood of attention deficit (ADHD).
    In China, where the number of children per family is controlled, steps have been taken to abolish the use of organo-phosphates for the above reason. There would be no point in reducing the population and then intoxicating the next generation’s brains.

    Well done, Brenda. You have spent hours researching the iniquity of using organo-phosphates and you have refused to be brow-beaten by authority. You have the moral high ground and I salute you!

  5. I would recommend reading ‘Cause and Effect, part2’ for a very clear explanation of where I am coming from. It is lodged with the British Library as a reference document.

    Black’s veterinary dictionary 10th edition has a lot to say on organophosphates being used on cattle for warble fly treatment. The university of New Jersey also explains the properties of many chemicals including crufomate. What I don’t understand is how the chemical industry can put out, belatedly, on a health and safety sheet on a particular type of sheep dip, that the sheep must not drink or inhale any of the dip wash. Even though you have to dip their head under twice?

    More power to the Indian Government and the Permanent Peoples Tribunal trying to bring the big 6 to account for crimes against humanity.

  6. Look out for crufomate, the organophosphate used on cattle for warble fly treatment.

  7. The U.K.government has all the mechanisms to follow the Permanent People’s recommendations in India. The verdict of this tribunal was very much on the side of the victims against the big 6 chemical companies. This is the job for the police – as long as they don’t leave it to the health and safety executive, they havent been fit for purpose for a long time.

    The Medicines Act 1968, section six, should serve the purpose admirably, also the charge of malfeasance against a number of civil servants.

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