The Organophosphate-BSE Hypothesis and CJD
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Note on Alzheimer's Disease / DementiaIt's probable that a lifetime's accumulation of OP or other insecticides will damage brain function. There's a balance between buying disease-free fruit and vegetables and grains, and long-term damage from residual poisonous chemicals.
This comment is prompted by TV ads in mid-2015 in Britain (including the most absurd actors and low-grade TV presenters).
What follows is a very long piece (I'm afraid) in an unusual genrea transcription of a three-way conversation, followed by explanatory notes. The B.S.E. outbreak (bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Etymologically, all this means is a sponge-like malformation within cattle heads) in British cattle, which has resulted in the slaughter of much of the 'national herd' and massive financial claims, has been attributed to protein molecules of a sinister new type which are supposed to be transmitted between cattle. From almost the start the causes of this disease (quickly and unfairly named 'mad cow disease') were disputed. The front runner in 'alternative' theories is the organophosphorus theory, mainly the work of Mark Purdey (scion of the shotgun company), himself a cattle farmer, who specifically cites Phosmet, used in high doses, and only in Britain, for the treatment of warble fly in cattle, as the cause of B.S.E.
Purdey's work includes a lot of current theoretical biology (prions, cell membranes, receptors etc), which is probably wrongthough of course this is not his fault. Rather than give an account Purdey's work, which is available in Medical Hypotheses journal, what follows is a more-or-less verbatim conversation between Joanna Wheatley, an organic farmer and activist, who had helped develop OP insecticides at ICI's experimental lab before she turned to farming, and Harold Hillman, in my view one of the foremost critics of modern biology.
This discussion can be read in several ways: to illustrate enthusiasm vs plodding science; the lack of time and money of critical thinkers; the way in which things which are hard to prove or disprove can expand and get out of control; the interplay of organisations and the possibilities for corruption; and even the difficulties in voluntary cooperation. This was December 1996; so far as I can tell, apart from an enquiry, things have continued unchanged. Joanna Wheatley is not allowed to sell her cattle as they are more than two and a half years old, and they are due to be shipped a hundred miles or so to be burnt.
I've included some technical material in my end notes . Some names may be inadvertently misspeltRae West.
BSE Inquiry (Phillips Inquiry):- The website http://www.bse.org.uk has information and court transcripts (in the style of the McLibel trial). It's a huge site (about 400 megabytes). Unfortunately the layout is very poorfor example, the contents of each day's proceedings aren't listed. The Inquiry has been largely ignored by the mediathe BBC, for example, has no coverage and no reporter, despite of course finding endless money for trivia. So it seems likely the rather sensational potential findings will be buried.
The date for the Report was extended (in February) to the end of September, 2000. It was finally published on 26th October, 2000; it is downloadable in various formats, for example as a series of PDF files totalling about 80 megabytes in Windows ZIP format. Inevitably the layout is poor.
Click here for Mark Purdey's first statement to the Inquiry (2nd April 1998) (about 38K, my HTML, on this site.)
People naive about modern 'science' and its practitioners will be surprised to hear that Purdey's Phosmet hypothesis has not been tested or investigated, in the fifteen or more years since it was suggested.
To assess the quality of the replies to Purdey, look at Purdey's later statements:- Statement 23A (7th June 1999) , replying to the evidence of Roger Cook of 'NOAH' (a front organisation for chemical interests), Tony Andrews, Tim Marrs, and John Tasker. And Statement 23B (12th Jan 2000), specifically and briefly replying to Mr Roger Cook.
Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency was set up (on 1st April, 2000) nominally to allay public worries over food in the wake both of BSE, and several more-or-less bogus scares involving eggs and cheese. It's supposed to be a sign of open government. What are the facts about this organisation?
It has a website http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk . It also has a 'BSE controls review' website, http://www.bsereview.org.uk . A typical quotation from this site is: 'This .. report looks at the BSE controls that are in place to protect public health.. Should the controls be lifted or remain? Should the controls be tightened or relaxed?' Note the way in which the actual science is not dealt with: such questions as: is BSE in fact reliably identifiable? What part do OPs play? How sound is the 'prion' idea? What hard evidence is there of danger to people? are all explicitly avoided.
In pursuit of supposedly open government, the FSA held a series of public meetings, typically in hotels, which provided, in the words of J M Keynes, food for the cynic. The layout was: a series of tables arranged in three sides of a square, at which were seated about twenty representatives of 'stakeholders', a rather motley collection from government departments, meat renderers, distributors, and so on, in addition to the supposedly scientific contingent. The student of social affairs must also note the rather high female representation, possibly on the theory that women are even less likely than men to ask serious questions.
The audiences were small; several dozen, including media people, young representatives sent by government departments to have a look, a few activists, and elderly women who'd done Open University degrees and accepted everything they'd been told.
Sir John Krebs leads the scientific contingent. Some others I spoke to were marked by the brittle arrogance that characterises people in large organisations with very little genuine auditing, either of their money or their ideas and activities. Krebs himself is highly personable and stuck me as an attractive personality. But whether his persona would survive critical examination must be doubtful. The fact is that he and his group are as phoney as three dollar bills.
At the time I write this I find Charles J. Krebs, then of the University of British Columbia, wrote Ecology: the Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance in 1978 though (without access to my references) I'm uncertain if this is the same Krebs, but, in any case, if you thought ecology had to do with pollutants, contamination, etc this book will set you rightanything like that is censored out. It reminded me of economic geography textbooks, in which heavily-industrialised countries are made to look agricultural, since all references to the seamy side of industry are omitted.
He is (I believe) the son of Hans Krebs, Nobel prize winner for (I think) his work on the citric acid cycle (or 'Krebs Cycle'), which needed immensely intricate work. Unfortunately, Hans Krebs had an immensely damaging effect on post-war science: a personality clash in the 1950s, with Hugh Sinclair, put a stop to serious research in aspects of nutrition which are only now beginning to be taken up (I have an account of this episode by David Horrobin. An amusing sidenote is that the links between smoking and nutrition, and diseases such as lung cancer, have not been made; if the tobacco companies had been a bit more intelligent, they would be facing a brighter future).
Note on CJD. (Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease). There are many obvious similarities of BSE with 'AIDS' (continual scare stories, incompetent sciencehowever, though there are good AIDS people, I have yet to find a serious critic of 'prions'incompetent politicians, enormous waste of money, cover-ups, sacrifice of smallish groups deemed implicitly to be unimportant.) Is BSE connected with CJD?
Joanna Wheatley's summary of the effects of OPs for the Central Science Laboratory workshop on research on OPs.
Prof Frank Woods chaired a group (from the 'Committee on Toxicity', COT) which produced a 250-page report (see e.g. Times , 27 Nov 1999.) It 'reviewed all the epidemiological evidence collected by others. It undertook no research of its own, and its study was limited to low levels of exposure .' (My emphasis). The process of going through the official literature is known as meta-research; it has the huge advantage of being conventional and safe, since published material is usually supervised and censored. Unsurprisingly, the Woods report said little, at least judging by press reports.
(Compare research into 'poppers' and their relation to 'AIDS': a study into this looked at low exposures, completely ignoring gays' use, inhaling very high concentrations).
'In wildlife, propiconazole greatly enhances the toxic action of organophosphate pesticides such as malathion, chlorpyrifos, and diazinon. In birds (partridge, Japanese quail, house sparrows, and tree sparrows, among others) and in honey bees, the presence of propiconazole increases the potency of organophosphate pesticides six-fold to 18-fold...' ( 1995 )Apart from guthion, chlorpyrifos, and diazinon, the only other organophosphates named in Rachel were dimethoate, malathion and parathion.
... Guthion (an organophosphate) to frogs. So-called "inerts" are secret ingredients in pesticides; many "inerts" are not inert at all, but are chemically active and toxic. By federal law the public (including scientific researchers) are prohibited from knowing what "inert ingredients" have been added to a pesticide. (Oct 96)
Sept 1997: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is a group of cancers that arise in the white blood cells. .. Organochlorines, organophosphates, and phenoxy herbicides all increase the dangers of NHL. ... [1993 study] found a 4-fold increase in NHL among women exposed to organophosphates.
illustrates the vast number of possible different organophosphates; three of the bonds can be replaced in vast numbers of ways. Chemists attempt, using standard techniques, to substitute or amend parts of these molecules. Since the biological processes when such molecules are absorbed into an organism are not known, only testing will show what properties the resulting formulation has, although similar molecules provide a guide. Phosphoric acid itself, which might (just about) be regarded as a limiting case of an OP, is harmless. The organo- part refers to the chemistry of carbon, which is organic chemistryit has nothing to do with organic in the popular sense.
Two 'nerve gases' (so called because they are believed to affect the body's system of nerves) are shown. It's interesting that VX, particularly lethal, was found empirically (I believe one man died and three were severely injured at ICI's plant about 1962).
To illustrate state interest in all this, note that the husband of Stella Rimington (reputed to head MI5; with what truth, I have no idea) was head of the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). And The Food Standards Agency committee includes Richard Ayre, 'Deputy Chief Executive of BBC News from 1996' to 1999. He was 'Controller of Editorial Policy, responsible for the editorial and ethical standards of all BBC programme making.' In short, a professional liar. Unsurprisingly, government funding for OP research and the Gulf War is nil. [Back to start]
shows the molecular structure of a typical lecithin, a 'phospholipid'. Note the phosphoric acid linking the choline and glycerine (or glycerol) molecules. Phosphorus is related to nitrogen in the periodic table; it's possible that choline is disrupted by such foreign molecules, or that OPs partly mimic phospholipids but cause damage when they behave in anomalous ways. Such molecules, never having been encountered during evolutionary processes, may cause permanent damage; rapid death is one possibility, but permanent disruption of biochemical pathways is another. Not illustrated is DNA, which has phosphate groups linking bases, another possible site for attack.
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