Royal Commission – 1st February 2005

“The Dose makes the Poison”

This comment has become the rallying point for all those who suggest that the symptoms experienced by those who report adverse effects from pesticides are “all in the mind” or due to “perception of risk”.
The problem is that it simply is not true.

It is the molecular shape that makes the poison and the poison is activated when it binds to the target receptors within the body of the animal, plant, bacteria or insect.
The dose is what determines how quickly or dramatically the symptoms become life threatening, or can be found by careful testing, or become obvious to the observer.
With some chemicals, such as organophosphates, scientists have found that there are no doses at which adverse effects are not found. This is because the chemicals bond with receptors used in vital processes.
For example it has been known for decades that organophosphates act at the phosphorus atom and the body relies on phosphorus atoms for hundreds of basic processes. This explains the known effects on the ADP/ATP energy transfer process, which depends on phosphorus and oxygen bonds.
Other vital processes themselves rely on ATP, including the hormone systems for which balance is said to be more important than quantity. I understand that there is a publication called “Hormones – from molecules to disease” that illustrates that point.
It is also known that there is no safe level for mutagenic chemicals.
“It is clear however that any increase in the mutagenic (mutation producing) substances in our environment or any increase in the amount of radiation to which we are exposed will produce an increase in the rate at which mutations will occur. The great majority of such mutations will be harmful. The most diligent research has failed to disclose any minimum amount of radiation or mutagenic chemical below which mutations will not occur. Thus any increase in background radiation or mutagenic chemicals whatsoever will add to the mutation rate and hence to the load of genetic disease borne by the human race. There is good reason to think that such radiation and chemical mutagens will, in addition, increase the incidence of somatic cell mutations leading to cancer. Most cancers are believed to originate in this fashion.” (Human Anatomy & Physiology, Solomon & Davis)

In addition the chemicals in pesticides are designed to disrupt vital pathways including sodium and calcium channels, resulting in complex changes to the way our bodies cope with the onslaught.
It is not as simple as a matter of dose. With vital processes inhibited the essential balances in the body are disrupted and some vital substances are made unavailable or “locked-up” by the imbalance.
Our dairy herd suffered serious fertility problems when the cattle were exposed first to OP warblecides and then to OP grain insecticides incorporated into their feed on ADAS advice. On both occasions the problem was overcome by supplementation with copper and other vital minerals and trace elements.
We learned that copper testing does not measure actual copper levels but is based on calculation and a known link to other substances. We also discovered that certain other chemicals actually locked-up the available copper in the cattle simply because they were found in slightly higher levels.
The essential balance in the cattle had been disrupted with costly effects.

Once sensitised to pesticide chemicals then minute amounts can trigger problems.
Some ten years ago a film crew came here, bringing with them a former research scientist who had helped develop the insecticide pirimiphos methyl while working for ICI. She had to stop that work when the company health-monitoring programme discovered that her health was being adversely affected.
The producers of the film wanted to see what protective clothing and equipment I had used when treating the grain store structure with that chemical and so I had rinsed the dust from the hand-held sprayer and rinsed the inside again, some 5 years after it had last been used. The sprayer had been stored over-night in an adjoining part of the house, outside the dwelling area, but the vapours from the chemical had filled the downstairs rooms. Luckily the crew did not arrive that day and I was none too well. Some days later, with the re-washed sprayer outside, the film crew arrived, with our former scientist. Immediately she entered the house she said that the chemical was present in the air and that she was also getting headaches.

A similar effect occurred when a friend supplied empty plastic bags that had held the dust form of the chemical. Another sufferer’s solicitor wanted the instructions for use as printed on the bags. My friend washed the bags with a hosepipe. He brought them to me but they still had the distinctive smell and so he washed them again in soap and warm water, then hosed them clean again. The bags were then hung out over night to dry – but it rained during the night. The next day the bags were placed in a plastic bag, sealed with sellotape, placed in another plastic bag and put inside a “jiffy” bag for posting.
The recipient knew what was in the bag as the postman delivered the parcel – he could smell the chemical, which had permeated through the packaging. The recipient telephoned me on receipt but it was difficult to understand what he was saying because he was wearing a mask because the fumes were already affecting his health. That is a documented story officially reported.
What level of “dose” was involved in those two cases?
In theory there should be no residue of the chemical remaining after 5 years or after washing and in hanging in sunlight for hours.
Neither knew that the chemical was present but each recognised it by the effects and the smell.

Then we have the known effects of minute exposures to other chemicals. I recall an insurance inspector who was examining a vehicle that had had a serious fire in the engine compartment. I went to point to where I thought the fire had begun and he pulled me back forcefully. The reason, he said, was that some very dangerous chemicals are formed in vehicle fires and if they touch the skin, even in minute doses, then the only remedy for the damage caused is limb amputation.

Also on the Isle of Wight there was a case some years ago, reported in the press, where a teenager was prescribed a drug for the symptoms of his illness and, despite having taken only one of the pills, he died after being airlifted to a London hospital. The cause of death was organ failure.

Reported in the press many years ago was the case of a woman who almost died after her husband smeared a perfumed product over the door handle to her bedroom. He knew that she suffered from a serious reaction to such chemicals and as a result was sent to prison for attempted murder.
It is known that some substances can trigger anaphylactic shock at incredibly low doses.
One young girl almost died simply because she held the hand of her father who had himself been feeding peanuts to birds. The result was a dangerous reaction in the child’s body.
I recall watching a discussion programme on TV in 1996 when a MAFF spokesman said that children could avoid the triggers for ADHD by avoiding additives, which were always listed on food labels.
I wrote to an allergy researcher who took part in the programme and said that not all dangerous additives in foods were listed. She demanded proof and within a week she had travelled from Hinckley to my home to collect the written evidence. She was shocked to read that poisons such as organophosphates and their dangerous solvents were added to food but never declared. She said that my reports had explained the sudden allergic reactions to peanuts that they had encountered in an 84 year old who had always eaten peanuts with no problems. When she realised that the MRLs for the organophosphate were higher in all foods linked to allergy, especially peanuts she saw an explanation. She reported that a racing stable had horses with a form of ME until they changed to organic food at which point the problem ceased.
She suggested that the practice of adding these poisons to our food must stop. Then she went silent.
It appears that the chemical companies fund her research group.

Some people have reported adverse effects to fertilisers and I had thought that they could be reassured but I recalled the words of an old farm worker in this village who had told me that I would “poison the land with all that artificial”.
Now it seems that he has a point.
It appears that, working on the idea that the dose makes the poison, manufacturers are using fertilisers as a means to spread toxic chemical waste over vast areas of agricultural land. Recently a man has been charged with assisting suicide by advising a teenager on the most dangerous fertiliser to swallow.
The claims of safety seem to be grossly exaggerated.

The dose does not make the poison. It is the reaction triggered in the body by the chemical, which creates the symptoms of poisoning. as receptors are blocked or reactions are triggered within the body.

Diagnosis of poisoning

The key requirements for a diagnosis of poisoning are

1. Exposure to a toxin.
2. That symptoms follow the exposure.
3. That the symptoms are similar to those in others similarly exposed.
4. Possible chemical analysis of body fluids may give evidence of exposure or toxic effects.
5. Post mortem findings may indicate the effects of poisoning on vital organs.

1. Exposure

It seems that the regulatory authorities only recognise exposures that are at or above the Observable Effect Levels but in practical situations the actual level of exposure is not known.
The “Observable Effects” are in fact the very effects and symptoms reported by the people exposed but there is currently a determination to deny the reality of those symptoms with no supporting evidence.
It is not physically, or scientifically, possible to retrospectively determine levels of exposure from offices many miles distant from the incident. Such measurements are all but impossible anyway.
Inhalation, skin contact, ingestion, they all are variables for exposure levels and individual susceptibility.
The dangers of repeated low-dose exposures have been recognised for decades and yet chronic poisoning is all but dismissed by the modern day “scientists” who rarely, if ever, check data sources for accuracy.

2 & 3. Symptoms follow Exposure and are similar to those in others.

What is intriguing about the current denial that pesticides cause ill health is the fact that so many people report identical symptoms after using them. Those same “scientists” that deny the known dangers of pesticides also claim that the symptoms are all “in the mind” or that those who report them have “read books about the symptoms” and made their own symptoms fit the book versions.
Those suggestions are insulting and an affront to good scientific practice.

In my own case whenever I used certain chemicals I had similar symptoms but I did not believe that it could be due to the chemicals because we had been told that they were tested and proven “safe”.
I would load the sprayer and drive up to the field only to fold up the booms and return to the farm within minutes because of the effects, collect a respirator mask and return to the task.
We would read the labels and see that no symptoms were expected in normal use and that some, but not all of the symptoms experienced were listed for the chemical product.
We did not, and many still do not, realise that most of the testing is done only on the almost pure ingredients, in isolation, and using sterile water with known properties including pH. Only after we were poisoned and our symptoms had been recorded did we discover that all the symptoms we experienced were known and recognised and that thousands of others around the world had reported the same experiences.

4. Body fluid samples are often not taken, and when they are we never know if the correct procedures are used when testing those samples. The interpretation of results has also been problematical in some cases.
We assisted one case when he was told by his GP that there were no tests and that even if there were he did not need to have samples taken. He had telephoned the Health & Safety Executive twice seeking help and advice only to have the telephone slammed down on him. We told him that it was absolutely vital to have the correct blood and urine tests done.
Eventually he convinced the doctors and then the samples confirmed that he had been poisoned. His case was not confirmed by the monitoring system via PIAP.
In another case the HSE reported that urine samples showed metabolites of the pesticide and he was told that he should be tested again and that if the following tests were clear then exposure would be proven.
The later tests were clear and he was told that this should reassure him that his symptoms were not due to the pesticides that had killed his dog. He has since died too.
His case also went unrecognised.

In my own case toxicologists knew I had been poisoned by organophosphates but the tests they reported were for Lindane – an organochlorine - which they claimed not to find.
The urine was not tested.
It is simply not true that tests for poisoning are not available.
The Poisons Unit list of the required test for toxins is very comprehensive and even includes tests for caffeine.
The problem is that too many of the toxicologists are directly linked to the chemical companies and they therefore have an incentive not to provide the patient with the evidence required for a legal action.

5. Post mortem studies are not applicable in the majority of pesticide poisoning cases. Even when patients do die it is rare for there to be any connection made with the toxins. In those cases that have occurred it appears that there is a determined effort to hide all links with pesticides and the deaths.
A local case involved a man who died with the official cause of death linked to his exposure to pesticides.
All was well until the inquest when suddenly those involved retracted details about the cause of death and why an operation to control the induced rare form of cancer was not possible. A government scientist stated that it was not possible for the cancer to have been caused by the exposures. That government scientist had a record of misdiagnosis of cancer for which compensation had been paid.
He had no evidence to support his claim that the cancer was not caused by the exposures but his views were accepted and the official cause of death then did not refer to pesticides.
Another case unrecognised.
It is vitally important that all pesticide related deaths are recorded as such because epidemiologists use official figures in their work. If the figures are not correct then they are wasting their time.

Burden of Proof

In Civil cases it should only be necessary to prove causation on the “Balance of Probabilities”.
In Criminal cases the burden of proof is much higher and must be beyond any doubt.

What has happened in chemical poisoning is that the burden of proof has been moved to 100% certainty.
This is the result of the wealth, power and influence of the alliance between the chemical companies, the farming organisations, government, NHS and lawyers, and the insurance industry and its underwriters.

The problem with chemical poisoning is that all toxins create effects that mimic natural diseases because they damage processes that produce diseases when they fail naturally. This gives those responsible for exposing people a way to escape responsibility for the harm they cause.
If no disease, or injury, or habit such as smoking, can be found to give a plausible explanation for the symptoms found in those chemically injured then the fallback reason is a psychiatric problem.
In this way very few cases can have any chance of reaching the courts. Those that do get that far face further impossible odds because they need supporting medical opinion and very few doctors and scientists dare to supply supporting opinions which will face extreme challenges in court. All too many of them will examine the chemically injured and deny their findings or produce false reports.

The Dangers of Hiding Cases of Poisoning

With the required standard of proof set impossibly high fewer and fewer poisoning cases are officially recognised. The manufacturers and farmers are given false assurance that their chemicals are safe and they take increasing risks. Stronger formulations are released and farmers cut corners. As a result more people are exposed and increasing numbers suffer the effects of toxic insult.
The problem gets worse and the need to hide the truth grows ever more urgent and out of control.

Those whose health is being badly affected by pesticides are asking for the truth to be told and they have waited far too long and suffered from far too many lies and duplicitous calls for “more research”.
It is clear that there is a wealth of supporting research that should have prevented the vast majority of the cases now reported to the Royal Commission and other bodies.
The rules and regulations are in place and they should have protected us but there is no proper enforcement programme and laws can be freely breached – unless wildlife or crops are involved.

I hope that the Royal Commission has the courage to protect the people of our country.

Sadly they did not.
They simply denied the evidence - and called for more research.
More importantly perhaps the Commission's flawed view was introduced into procedings to ensure that the Government overturned the Judicial Review decision that demonstrated the regulatory failure to protect rural residents from the cumulative effects of the repeated exposure to an increasingly wide variety of poisons used in pesticides.

Dated 01/02/2005    Updated 20/02/2016

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