Saturday, 11 May 2013

Kent Downs AONB false ragwort info

One of the really depressing things about the information on ragwort on the internet is how often the information provided by official bodies is wrong.

In this case it is the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty who are distributing material which is unquestionably wrong.  They have produced a document called "Managing Land for Horses"
which makes the following incorrect statement..
   Landowners and occupiers have a duty to prevent the spread of ragwort under the Weeds Act 1959 and the Ragwort Control Act 2003.
Now the thing about laws is that they can be black and white and in this case they are.So we can be absolutely certain about what a law says and these laws DO NOT place a duty on landowners and land occupiers to prevent the spread of ragwort. The 1959 Act provides for the application of control orders where the plant is a problem. In the absence of an order there is no obligation on anyone to do anything and the second Act just provides for the production of a non-obligatory code of practice. In the link in this sentence you  can find a briefing on ragwort law .

There is of course much misinformation about ragwort on the internet these days, so you are advised to go to the Ragwort Facts website for more information.

This is a salient lesson to those who insist on following official bodies. It is well known that to argue from authority is a complete no-no in science, indeed there is evidence that people who do this habitually are in fact less intelligent. This is another of many examples of incorrect official information on ragwort.

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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Your horse forum bad hysteria

If you want to see the effect of bad writing in the press, you have to look no further than the Your Horse forum.

Your Horse is a magazine with a bad history of  posting nonsense about ragwort. Printing alarming nonsense about the law and other things and encouraging the readers to pass this on to MPs. So it should come as no surprise that its forum contains people repeating nonsense about ragwort.

This is just one example of a rich vein of material recently drawn to my attention. There are some really silly quotes.

Don't farmers realise that ragwort is dangerous to ALL animals, even humans?
Yes it is poisonous to things that eat it., but animals avoid it when it is growing and eat around it and humans don't eat it. The class of dangerous chemicals present are actually found in 3% of the world's plants.
 May may plants are poisonous but plant poisonings are very rare in animals and in humans.
I  believe the farmer ( & actually everyone else! ) has a legal duty to keep his land ragwort free as it is a notifiable weed 
There is no automatic legal duty on any one  in the UK to keep land free of ragwort and there is no such thing as a notifiable weed in UK law.

And lo and behold we have the old skin absorbtion myth again!.

Sorry its the juice of the plant which soaks through your skin that causes the problem and it will cause liver and kidney failure not a nice way to go.

This has been looked at . There is no problem here. The toxins need to be absorbed in quantity, ar poorly absorbed through the skin , and then need to be changed in the gut before they become toxic.

This blog does tend to get a bit repetitive I know but these stories need to be combatted.
It really isn't at all acceptable for people to be mislead into saying silly things on the internet as a result of campaigning , often with those with financial gain at heart.

I could if I chose to devote the time probably find something somewhere on the internet everyday that is repeating false material about ragwort.

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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

More Nonsensical Ragwort Twittering

After yesterday's posting correcting the twitter user @dookist we were treated to a frankly hilarious display of exactly the problem that causes me to blog. It is of course no sin to be ignorant, but it is frustrating that when you supply someone with the sources of proper data that they seem to carry on ranting ignorantly.

There was a flurry of responses These are just some which illustrate the point beautifully.

@Ragwort_horses @ragwortfacts Obviously, the onus is on the farmer producing the hay. There's so much ragwort now, that people go to France!

This is really really silly. Ragwort is actually DECREASING in the UK. We know this because it has been subjected to proper scientific study as part of a government sponsored project.

@Ragwort_horses @ragwortfacts I don't think it justifiable to accuse someone of being hysterical, when one can be prosecuted for growing it.

But you can't just be prosecuted for growing ragwort. It is true that in extreme circumstances you may be ordered to control it, but in the absence of such an order there is no obligation to control it and you can only be prosecuted if you ignore an order. This has apparently never happened and also the orders were hardly used until people started making things up about ragwort to scare people.
Here is a briefing on ragwort law.

@ragwortfacts @maldondc Hysterical, moi?! It blows from the verges onto hay crops, & a few years down the line you horse gets liver failure.
First of all ragwort poisoning is rare.People continually quote Liverpool University as a source of expertise and a source of high figures. Well they have supplied figures for a five year period, the totality of the data that  they could provide. There was not one single case of ragwort poisoning recorded over these five years. NOT ONE!

Secondly ragwort seeds do not normally blow far. Only a matter of metres in fact.
Here you will find the data on ragwort seed dispersal

My message to @Dookist is this. If you are going to go into a public forum and post information, you had better make sure that you know what you are talking about. I have been studying this subject for  over  a decade. From where I am standing you seem rather foolish.

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