Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ragwort Awareness Week : Bonkers letter in Daily Telegraph

This is another prime example of hysteria. Today's Daily Telegraph prints a letter from Zandra Powell in Thorpe Malsor, Northamptonshire that is full of inaccuracies and misinformation. In fact even trying to be dispassionate I feel the proper word to describe this letter is BONKERS!

It starts:

SIR – Ragwort, an illegal, poisonous, non-indigenous plant, is flowering in profusion along our highways and roundabouts.

This is incorrect. Ragwort is not illegal and it is most certainly an indigenous plant. It is one that is very valuable to biodiversity too.

The letter carries on:

Seeds blow everywhere and can be inhaled by humans and animals.

There has been quite a bit of research on the seeds of ragwort. The studies show that most of them fall at the base of the plant and that the remainder almost entirely fall within a few meters. So they certainly don't blow everywhere.

The really crazy thing though is the claim that people and animals can inhale the seeds. This is a really well-known urban myth. It is sheer nonsense. Try inhaling anything the size of ragwort seeds and see the coughing fit you will have!

A little googling shows that there is someone with the same highly unusual name living in the same village who is the Lord of the Manor of Rothwell and who has written or illustrated books with the British Horse Society.

This is the same British Horse Society that is currently running a Ragwort Awareness Week. I blogged yesterday about similar nonsense and even admissions of criminal activity on one of their forums and they recently had a leaflet stopped by the Advertising Standards Authority because of false claims about the law. It is the same British Horse Society that has itself been saying that it is illegal to allow ragwort to spread, which is false.

As ever you can find more sensible information on the Ragwort Facts website and a list of myths, including the ones in this letter, properly debunked on the Ragwort Myths page
Ragwort Hysteria latest entries

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