§ Mr. Ron Davies
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is aware of any studies relating to myopia in connection with organophosphorus pesticide exposure among schoolchildren in Japan; and what studies have been conducted into similar effects in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. John Patten
[pursuant to his reply, 4 March, column 412]: We are aware of two Japanese studies. One showed a correlation between the amount of organophosporus pesticides used one year and incidence in myopia in schoolchildren the following year. Later work showed that peaks in the earlier incidence of myopia corresponded with peaks in the amounts of these pesticides sold. The evidence available at present suggests that the studies were not particularly soundly based, and there are other Japanese papers which criticise these types of studies and argue against organophosphorus pesticides being a major or even probable cause of myopia in young people.
Organophosphorus pesticides can cause eye effects, but these are transient, wearing off as the pesticide disappears fairly rapidly from the tissues, as it does from food. 456W Because of the approved methods of use in the United Kingdom, people should not be exposed to this pesticide, and food surveys have not found any appreciable residues of these substances; there may be different routes of exposure in Japan.
No studies are being sponsored by the Government as there is not considered to be a problem in this country. However, any further information from Japan or elsewhere will be carefully considered.