THE DEATH of Clare Tomkins from CJD is very sad and very puzzling ("Vegetarian dies after battle against CJD", 23 April). Clare is not the first vegetarian to have contracted this disease allegedly caught by eating beef. We may be barking up the wrong tree.
More and more evidence indicates that BSE may not be caused by cattle feed but by exposure to organophosphate pesticides which attack the nervous system and are widely used in farming and horticulture. Large doses were compulsorily used on cattle to kill warble flies.
It has not been scientifically proved that BSE can be transmitted to people by eating beef. This speculation has grown because the symptoms of CJD victims are similar to those in BSE-affected cattle. There is evidence to suggest that CJD victims may have been directly exposed to these pesticides through their work and have been particularly susceptible to their harmful effects. Clare Tomkins worked with animals which may well have been treated to kill parasites. For example, flea sprays and flea collars are impregnated with organophosphates.
This evidence, which has not been thoroughly investigated so far, may throw new light on the BSE crisis.
TERESA GORMAN MP
House of Commons