The admission comes in a letter this week from junior agriculture minister Angela Browning to Liberal Democrat Paul Tyler.
More than 1,000 British servicemen claim they are suffering a variety of chronic and debilitating illnesses as a result of serving in the Gulf War more than six years ago. The widespread use of OP pesticides, also believed to have made many sheep farmers seriously ill, is one possible cause.
Mrs Browning's letter says: ''You asked whether the Ministry of Defence had contacted this department at the time of the Gulf War to obtain advice on the use of OP pesticides. We have checked the position carefully and I can confirm that no such approach was made.''
Mr Tyler, MP for North Cornwall and now the Liberal Democrat's candidate in the constituency, said yesterday: ''It is mind boggling that one government ministry which was going to be responsible for the use of OPs never thought to ask questions about safety measures.'' Gulf veterans had ''every reason to feel aggrieved", he said.