Letter: Low-dose danger of pesticides

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The Independent Online
Sir: There may well be no risk to anyone from BSE buried in open tips ... but there might. There may well be no risk from the bovine incineration plants through the smoke and ash they produce ... but there might. Risks have been already taken and tips such as Rowley (report, 12 March) can only add to them by a relatively low amount.

Quite inadequate research has been carried out into the spread of BSE, into the doses needed to infect animals and into the levels present in bovine tissues. The levels of infectivity originally claimed by Maff to be in the tissues were between 1,000 and 10,000 times lower than they turned out to be, and the tests used on most tissues were too insensitive. So not enough data is available to say if Rowley is a danger or not.

What we can say is that on average, in the UK, we have each eaten 50 meals of bovine products made from cattle infected with BSE and extensive research must now go ahead into methods of diagnosis and treatment for the people that have become infected. The Medical Research Council has recently refused to fund research into the number of people in the population incubating the disease. We have excellent scientists and should be using them.

DR STEPHEN DEALLER

Microbiologist

Burnley, Lancashire

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