Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kirklees Council misleads people

Today's blog posting is about Kirklees Council putting out a bad story about ragwort.
It starts :-

Twenty-two employees volunteered their time to pull this invasive plant on one of Kirklees’ top visitor attractions.
This is highly misleading. Most people with any knowledge of nature will read "invasive plant" as a problematic plant from abroad that is foreign to our ecology and as a result is causing problems. Indeed, I was contacted by one of my regular correspondents who had also picked up on the story because they also felt it was misleading for the same reason.  Ragwort is an ecologically valuable native plant.

The story goes on and prints another falsehood :-

Under the Weeds Act 1959 the occupier of land has to take action to prevent the spread of common ragwort.
This is WRONG . The Act, which was never used until the current bout of hysteria, allows for orders to be made for control. Without an order there is no responsibility on anyone to do anything. This is not affected by any of the subsequent legislation. Here is a full briefing on ragwort law.

If anyone from Kirklees Council is reading this they should know the following. Having studied the plant for many years and the hysteria generated often by people with   financial interest I can confidently say that there is no evidence that fresh ragwort poses a serious risk to livestock. In hay it can be a problem yes, but animals are shaped by nature to have an innate biological sense called taste that stops them eating poisons.
Those that didn't do this well didn't leave so many descendants so their genes were weeded out millions of years ago.  There is also little problem from seed spread. The seeds mostly drop at the base of the plant or fall within a few metres. The Defra guidance does not follow the science. It will have to change at some point. We now know that the main figures they quote as possible for the numbers of animals deaths come from a source that has actually recorded absolutely zero cases in a five year period!. The council  should not listen to the hysteria and not follow the cognitively deficient route of following authority rather than evidence.

The problem with ragwort is that people have made things up. That link on the previous sentence gives a page  with  two websites with proper scientific information from experts.

Printing this kind of misinformation makes the council look bad. It also encourages law breaking. They are repeating the kinds of myths which were stopped in  commercial adverts by the Advertising Standards Authority. Misleading customers is illegal under the latest European legislation. What irony it would be if their own Trading Standards Department were to find themselves up against someone who said."Well I got the information from your website".,

Ragwort Hysteria latest entries

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