A Cosy Band of Friends

One of the most surprising aspects of the poisoning problem found by most sufferers is the close relationship which exists within the various regulatory bodies and with those who claim to represent victims.

For example if a pesticide incident is to be recognised it first has to be investigated by the Health & Safety Executive. This sounds simple enough but if we are to believe that we have missed the point.

The HSE advises the Medical profession on the safety levels and any treatments available. Even the Department of Social Security is advised to contact the HSE for additional information on poisoning cases as is seen in their publication "Notes on the Diagnosis of Prescribed Diseases"

Unfortunately the HSE also helps to set the safe levels of pesticides in food in its role under the Working Party on Pesticide Residues so there is a built in disincentive when it comes to admitting that there set safety levels are actually too high and have resulted in poisoning.

Of course this means that if medical professional see presented before them an obvious case of poisoning which the HSE have failed to investigate then it is difficult for them to diagnose poisoning without evidence of an incident of exposure to pesticides.

Even when the HSE do investigate life for the victim is far from easy. Suppose they find that there has been an exposure to the chemical and that in their view illness has resulted - a rare scenario but let's pretend!.

Then the case is referred, in the case of pesticides, to the Pesticides Incidents Appraisal Panel, which just happens to consist largely of HSE staff and those from the Poisons Units.

Even with good evidence few cases manage to gain recognition.

If we wonder why then we must ask about the connections.
Many of the individuals involved have or have had chemical company connections. They may claim to leave the room when products with which they are linked are involved but it is perfectly clear that their influence may not leave with them.

Similar scenes are set with Veterinary Products which include the OP sheep dips and covers the dreadful harm done to farmers who have dipped sheep using OP compounds.

All too often the same people appear wearing different hats and sitting on different but none-the-less highly influential committees.
Almost always their role seems to be to ignore evidence of harm in favour of the preferred chemical company line which normally proclaims safety.

Sadly only those cases which are confirmed by these bodies are actually reported to the chemical companies so we have a closed system. If cases are unable to negotiate the obstacle course set before them then the chemical companies have no way of knowing when something is going seriously wrong. This results in more poisoning cases which will fail to gain recognition until a point is reached where public pressure demands action.

The victims may turn to the law but that too holds hidden dangers.

They are likely to require assistance from the state in the form of Legal Aid if they are to fund a case from their sick beds.
The Legal Aid board was part of the Benefits Agency which also has need to reduce its costs but it is also part of the Government which licensed the chemicals as safe to use in the first place.
Legal Services are controlled by lawyers who can earn large sums of money from Legal Aid even if the cases do not reach Court.

Each case can earn tens of thousands of pounds for the profession so it is advantageous to allow the victim to start a case. If a case succeeds however it will set a precedent which will reduce further income and so it is also likely that few if any cases will be supported as strongly as they should be if they are to be successful.

Stories abound of serious "mistakes" which appear as if by magic in statements supposedly made by the victim but which contradict fact and only serve to weaken the cases.

Good money here too for medical professions who can earn small fortunes for preparing diagnostic reports which are often ambiguous so as not to support the case too strongly. Doctors depend upon the chemical companies in their work and many receive lucrative perks for using certain drugs. Veterinary Surgeons are in a similar position.

Providing there is no success in the courts the false claim that little is known about the long term effects of OP poisoning can continue. But the number of victims coming forward does not diminish. This too is used to great advantage since there are lucrative research contracts to be had if the right claims are made at the right time and place.

Here the action groups have the opportunity to make their mark and they are able to furnish the researchers they consider to be supportive with the names and addresses of victims who have declared an interest in "getting to the truth". Never mind that all involved already know the "truth", with the possible exception of the victims themselves. This is a good opportunity to gain influence and recognition for good works. Millions of pounds are given to research scientists simply to "prove" what has been known for most of the last century. Unfortunately despite the willingness of the victims to undergo often painful procedures the results of such studies are often "inconclusive" and calls are made for - yes you guessed it - more research.

Let's look at who does the research and where for a moment,

Mostly the laboratories are controlled by the Chemical and drug companies with help and funding from their close allies in Government departments.

The "Revolving door" said to exist between Government regulatory bodies and the chemical companies sometimes appears to be jammed open with high denomination notes.

The temptation to take advantage of the situation must be great but what we must ask is

Are we are satisfied that we are protected by this system?

Dated 16/9/2000

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