Friday, 27 July 2012

Lady Bathhurst wrong again

A few days ago I blogged about  Lady Bathurst getting the law on ragwort wrong on Twitter. My blog and tweet resulted in a flurry of responses which I am addressing in today's posting.
 Interesting - as a classified Noxious Plant, it should be. Up there with squirrels..
I make no apology for hating the stuff. How about silage/hay? The potential damage
to livestock is enormous.
There is a problem in hay. It is the only problem, but the evidence shows it is a rare problem. There are many  things which shouldn't be in hay so hayfield should be properly managed and we know from the research that seed spread isn't the issue. It is land management.

 It actually takes an awful lot of ragwort to poison an animal and we know from the biochemistry that small amounts will likely have no effect at all. There is actually a scientific paper written in French where animals were deliberately poisoned because it was thought, incorrectly, that ragwort might be different in France because of the paucity of poisoning records.
 It is not 'hysteria' it's fact. Try the owner of a horse,
or animal that's died in agony due to ragwort poisoning - & accuse them of being..
 'hysterical' & I'd imagine you'd get a pretty direct reply 

Actually I do refer people to the owner of  horse for serious scientific information which debunks the nonsense. The ragwort myths and facts  website is written by Esther Hegt a horse owner who originally believed that ragwort was as bad as Lady Bathurst thinks until she studied the science and discovered the fuss really is hysteria.
Japanese Knotweed is  another culprit. Agreed, all part of the wider tapestry of wildlife - but allowed to take over & there's a problem.

Ragwort is a native plant.  It is not taking over. There has been a proper scientific government survey. It is actually decreasing.
One plant can reseed 100s of new. Youll never persuade me otherwise. Sorry!

This is normal for plants but on average from the data we know that each ragwort plant produces  less than 1 new plant  as offspring in the UK. The seed spread has been measured  and they do not travel far from the plant.
One last thing. Ragwort has been connected with liver damage in humans.

Oh dear. This old chestnut again. It is a myth. I blogged about this here.

And finally she digs out the Defra guidance  and says this.
Worth a 15 minute read. Learnt a great deal. But can confirm it IS regarded as a 'noxious weed'.
Well I must congratulate Lady Bathurst for at least trying to find a good source of information.
Noxious for example just comes from the Latin word for poisonous. So yes is is on rare occasions poisonous Unfortunately in science arguing from authority like this, is one of the worst possible things to do. The problem is that Defra gets things wrong.

The Defra guidance does contain some good information but it is rather unreliable. The civil servants putting these things together plainly aren't experts, because they get a number of things wrong. They give credence to the skin poisoning myth and believe that it is credible to believe the poor information that is circulated that Liverpool University records lots of cases of poisoning. In fact they should have checked. The latest data from 2006-2010, a five year period shows no horse deaths at all recorded.

Incidentally , public servants getting things wrong is extremely common. I blog about this on a regular basis.
Scottish equivalent of Defra made a real howler of an error. It is documented in this list of ragwort myths and really shows that they knew almost nothing about ragwort toxicology.
Ragwort Hysteria latest entries

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