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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: FATEPriDE Environmental Factors that Affect the Development of Prion Diseases
Date: October 15, 2006 at 11:40 am PST

In Reply to: FATEPriDE Environmental Factors that Affect the Development of Prion Diseases posted by TSS on February 18, 2006 at 9:24 am:

Opinion on Organophosphate (OP) poisoning and hypothetical involvement in the origin of bse (adopted on 10-11 April 2003) (95KB)

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Scientific Steering Committee





In its opinion on possible links between BSE and Organophosphates adopted on 25-26 June

1998 and in its opinion on Hypotheses on the origin and transmission of BSE adopted on 29-

30 November 2001 the SSC concluded that there is no scientific evidence in support of the

hypothesis of an OP origin of BSE.

The issue of organophosphate poisoning has not been dealt with by the SSC so far. The

concerns expressed in the enquiries cover mainly intoxication by occupational exposure of

shepherds and farmers to OPs upon use against ecto-parasites, especially in sheep dipping and

treatment of cattle against Warble Fly infestation. Risks from residues are addressed to a

lesser extend.

In early 2003, a large number of additional enquiries on the issue have been addressed to

European Commission’s Health and Consumer Directorate General. Four of these with

substantial enclosures were by one person. Most of them are addressing both issues: chronic

organophosphate (OP) poisoning and the origin of BSE.

Information provided with the enquiries

In addition to numerous newspaper and magazine articles the enclosures to the enquiries

provide the Material Safety Data Sheet on diazinon, the OHSA Occupational Safety and

Health Guideline for Tetraethylpyrophosphate (TEPP), an US agency Hazardous Substances

Fact Sheet on crufomate, company safety information sheets, some correspondence with UK

authorities including their activities to improve safe use of these chemicals. The information

regarding claimed OP chronic poisoning of cases presented does not provide evidence, neither

for OPs being the cause for diseases nor for their exclusion (i.e., “very low” bloodcholinesterase

levels, provided without data or comparison with the normal distribution of

values; successful treatment of a patient for OP clearance without giving any OP data). It

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seems however, that due to insufficient, non-prudent use of the safety requirements undue

exposures of shepherds and farmers have occurred.

There is no additional information on the claimed involvement of OPs in the origin of BSE.

This applies for both, the hypotheses on the direct effect of OPs as well as on their

hypothetical role for Cu-deficiency to be involved in the origin of BSE (Cu binding of prion

protein is known). New publications are mentioned in one enquiry but they have not yet been

provided. In an Internet search no recent scientifically valid publications were traceable. The

SSC had been informed that research would be launched on this hypothesis, but no

information has been provided so far on its status or on results.


a) As regards the involvement of organophosphates in the origin of BSE, no new scientific

information providing evidence or supporting the hypothesis by valid data became

available after the adoption of the last opinion of the SSC on this issue. Consequently

there is no reason for modifying the existing opinions.

b) Regarding the possibility of OP poisoning, the European legislation for registration of

plant protection products and veterinary medicines – addressed in the enquiries – provide

the basis for safe use of registered compounds and their formulations. Regarding the

alleged intoxication cases reported and OP exposure it must be concluded that safety

measures may not have been strictly followed.


Brown, D.R., Qin, K., Herms, J.W., Madlung, A., Manson, J., Strome, R., Fraser, P.E., Kruck, T., von

Bohlen, A., Schulz- Schaeffer, W., Giese, A., Westaway, D. and Kretzschmar, H. (1997) The Cellular

Prion Protein Binds Copper In Vivo, Nature, 390, 684-7.

Purdey, M. (2000) Ecosystems Supporting Clusters of Sporadic TSEs Demonstrate Excesses of the Radical-

Generating Divalent Cation Manganese and Deficiencies of Antioxidant Co-Factors Cu, Se, Fe, Zn Medical

Hypotheses, 54, 278-306.

Scientific Steering Committee, 1998. Opinion on possible links between BSE and Organophosphates. Adopted

on 25-26 June 1998

Scientific Steering Committee, 2001. Opinion on Hypotheses on the origin and transmission of BSE. Adopted

on 29-30 November 2001.


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