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Gulf War Illnesses

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many of the marmosets involved in the studies referred to in the Written Statement by Lord Drayson on 19 October (WS 87-8) on the findings of the Vaccines Interactions Research Programme, sponsored by the Ministry of Defence at Porton Down, were exposed to the range of insults, including uncontrolled spraying of organophosphate pesticides, DEET, low-level sarin, oil-well fire residues and depleted uranium which were experienced by 1990-91 Gulf War service men and women in addition to vaccines and pyridostigmine bromide. [HL400]

As I indicated on 8 November (Official Report, cols. WA 184-5), environmental and other exposures which may have been experienced by some individuals during the 1990-91 Gulf conflict were not part of the Vaccines Interactions Research Programme. The latter was designed to address specific concerns at the time of commissioning—not least among veterans and their representatives—that the vaccines and pyridostigmine bromide which were received by the overwhelming majority of those prepared for deployment to the Gulf might be the cause of the ill health. The possible adverse health effects of the wider exposures mentioned in the question are already well understood or have been the subject of other research programmes. The wider evidence currently available makes clear that the ill health reported among Gulf veterans also affects individuals who had not experienced these exposures.