HC Deb 07 July 1960 vol 626 cc684-5
25. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as representing the Minister for Science, what research is being conducted into the carcinogenous effects of using stilboestrol in the production of broiler chickens.

Mr. Hare

Under certain laboratory conditions, large doses of oestrogens have been found to have carcinogenic properties in laboratory animals. I am advised that stilboestrol is very little used in this country for the production of broiler chickens. Even when it is used, the amounts that remain in the edible parts are very small by comparison with the amounts involved in these laboratory experiments. The Agricultural Research Council is, however, reviewing the possible hazards associated with the use of these substances in agriculture.

Mr. Lipton

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this chemical is known to produce cancer in animals and that its long-term effects on humans should be the subject of a much wider and more careful research than is apparently going on at the moment? Does not the whole subject of the chemical treatment of food call for much wider research?

Mr. Hare

The hon. Gentleman should not discount the very detailed examination which has been given to the subject by the Agricultural Research Council. I do not wish in any way to be complacent, but we have had no reports of harmful effects to people resulting from the use of these things.

Dr. Stross

Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about this substance? Is he aware that the Home Secretary makes use of this substance and that it is allowed to be given in appreciable doses to people who are imprisoned and whose sexual desire has proved a menace to society generally? Might he not get some information which would be useful to him if he spoke to his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Hare

That might be considered slightly outside this Question, but I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's comments. As he will realise, the best thing to do is to wait for the report of the expert committee which is looking into the matter.