Monday, 20 October 2014

Scottish Horse feeding ragwort hysteria

A recent article  on the website of the magazine Scottish Horse has come to my notice.
As usual for the horsey press it is light on understanding of science and logic and heavy on promoting hysteria.

To quote it:-

On another September topic, the BHS in England has just completed a massive important survey with Defra looking into people's attitudes towards the yellow peril (ragwort). We await the findings with interest as increasingly we come across people who question its toxicity or don't see ragwort control as a priority.
Anyone with the slightest grasp of how you conduct a survey properly will know that it is useless.
It was carried out in a crooked manner in a way that will give crooked results. Like for example starting it with a video which falsely talks up the problem. There is abundant psychological research which shows that this will bias your survey. Then there are leading questions etc etc. It is useless!

In Scotland, currently our government guidance says where ragwort grows in a high risk situation, that means within a certain distance of grazing animals or in conserved forage, we should see enforcement with the perpetrators being asked to control it on their land.

An this is a result of people encouraged by magazines like Scottish Horse who print silly articles like this.
As I blogged yesterday a tendency  to follow authority, the research shows, can be a very clear sign of a mental deficit. So it doesn't generate faith in the writer especially as they have faith in a bent survey.

The problem, as ever, is being able to prove it kills horses - vets don't always do liver biopsies at post mortem. However, we know it is toxic to all animals and humans and needs to be controlled.
This is really bad logic. We do know that when tests are carried out the number of cases of liver damage due to ragwort poisoning is minuscule  So minuscule in fact as to be almost invisible. I blogged about this before.
Saying it is toxic to people is just a scare story, so are runner bean roots and potato leaves. and the plants of Brachyglottis greyi which is growing in a public park a stones throw from where I am sitting even contains the same toxins as its close relative Common Ragwort. Brachyglottis is planted all over the place as are a number of plants containing the ragwort toxins. There is no risk from it.

 I have researched the subject extensively are no cases at all of ragwort poisoning being diagnosed in people in the UK. Yet the stories will continue and more people will be frightened

For your entertainment  I provide a piece of comic relief  on surveying Defra style. We have Sir Humphrey Appleby on the comedy series, Yes, Prime Minister explaining how it is done.

Notice him describing it as a "perfect balanced sample." That is appropriate given the title of yesterday's blog entry.






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Friday, 17 October 2014

Balance science & poor thinking on ragwort

I was actually planning to write this entry today anyway, but there was a great example to follow on the BBC last night. For the benefit of my many foreign readers I will explain. There is a consumer rights programme called Watchdog and part of is is something that was originally a separate series called Rogue Traders.

Rogue Traders is now a series of segments inside Watchdog. It used a wonderful example of debunking pseudoscience, which is what I do with this blog. A dodgy company was frightening people into buying unnecessary water filters and it was doing this by using a conspiracy theory that there was a plot to put to much chlorine in the water. The programme was done with the usual humour comparing the theory to the world being ruled by lizards or that Elvis was still alive, but most importantly it used evidence to show that the company's claims were false. There were some hilariously wrong claims. The company claimed that there was no regulation of chlorine in the water and that someone just "shovelled it in". This is of course simply nonsense since the chlorine added to the water supply is usually added as a gas which you can't shovel!

It is only by the means of evidence that we know that things are true and this is central to the scientific method. Now we come to a common criticism that is levelled at those of us who debunk ragwort hysteria. Our arguments are not balanced. There are two sides to the story. Well let's go back to the chlorine in tap water example. There are two sides to the story there. The company's claims and the scientific evidence.

As the programme showed these rogue traders were deceiving people with pseudoscience. So one side is wrong. It is a well-known logical fallacy called an "Argument from moderation" to argue for balance. There is no competing balance in the chlorine story. It is a hoax perpetrated by rogue traders to get money out of ignorant people. You cannot half shovel a gas into water, because it is a gas.

There are two sides to the ragwort story too but the balance is all on one side. There are those who have made claims and there is the scientific evidence. For example, the claim that a particular university records many cases of ragwort poisoning and the second claim that you can use the that figure to get a picture for the whole country. Well, we can apply the scientific method to that first claim. We can use the Freedom of Information Act in the UK to ask the university for the real figures. I did this. There were almost no cases at all so that claim was false. The balance shows I am clearly right. We can then apply the scientific method to the claim that you can use those false figures to represent the picture for the whole country. Well ,even if the false figures were correct you couldn't use them because that breaks the rules of science.  I explained this a while ago in an earlier posting. In short they are not a representative sample. You will see I quoted a famous medical expert and fellow pseudoscience debunker as saying that it you did a very similar thing you were an idiot. Again there is no competing balance the science shows that my side of the argument is right.

Incidentally, there was an interesting story in a newspaper recently a journalist asked for facts and made a request to a lab which is owned by another university for their figures on ragwort poisoning.
This is what they said:-

"A Freedom of Information request to Langford Veterinary Services in Bristol, home to the diagnostic laboratories that serve vets across mid-Somerset, revealed they have treated a total of 16 horses for forms of liver disease since 2006 – none of which died. Only one of those cases was attributed to Ragwort poisoning."
This is what always happens when people disregard the hysteria and look for the proper facts. It is shown that ragwort poisoning is rare. There are two problems, significant quantities when fed in hay and abuse by starvation forcing animals to eat anything in desperation.

There is also the false story in circulation that even the tiniest quantity is a cumulative poison. Well, paracetamol is a cumulative poison too. but it is detoxified in the body. It so happens that one of the several mechanisms that detoxifies the breakdown products of ragwort is exactly the same one that prevents normal doses of paracetamol from causing poisoning,

I can show that pretty much all the claims about ragwort that get people fired up are false and when companies repeat them the Advertising Standards Authority has taken action to stop them. They looked at the scientific evidence and decided the claims were false. There was no half way position, the science showed that the balance was all one way. I would say at this point that a lot of the people making false claims are doing so in good faith. They just aren't knowledgeable enough to know the truth.

Finally I'd like to write something about the argument put out by critics who say things like Defra has some guidance and it is your responsibility to follow it. Well there is some very powerful and research on this kind of poor thinking research which if it turns out to be incorrect means that the whole field of personality research is wrong.  It shows that that kind of unscientific thinking, which involves thinking that authority must be right because it is authority despite the evidence showing the contrary, shows a deficit of a particular personality trait. One of the names used for this trait in the research  "intellect" and you will not be surprised to see that a deficit of this "intellect" is associated with lowered intelligence.

In fact we see this all the time. Intelligence is just the capability to understand things. It comes from the Latin word "intellegere" which means to understand. In the other language I use in my day-to-day life, Welsh, the word we use translates literally to "understanding-full-ness" and we see this lack of intelligence displayed all the time amongst the anti-ragwort brigade. I was told all the attacks on me trying to make me look bad were not "derogatory" ( Don't laugh! . It happened!). For clarification of any doubt,  the Oxford English Dictionary, the most comprehensive dictionary of the language, defines the word as, "Having the effect of lowering in honour or estimation; depreciatory, disparaging, disrespectful, lowering."


In short arguing from tradition or authority is known to be commonly the mark of stupidity. We have the research to show it and it seems there are many examples out there.


John Cleese humorously explains the problems this causes in terms of some other research on ability.













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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Norman Tebbit on your bike for ragwort research!

Lord Norman Tebbit of Chingford is a well-known British politician . He was a minister in Margaret Thatcher's government. He is infamously outspoken, not just for implying that the unemployed should get on their bikes and look for work. This outspokenness has led to a fair share of bad press. The satirical puppet show Spitting Image portrayed him as a violent, leather-clad bovver boy and some press wag gave him the  nickname,"The Chingford Strangler," which stuck.

Given his career as a minister and the bad press he has had you would then think that he would know to do his research before he asks questions of ministers, but he evidently hasn't learnt this lesson.

He asked this question in the House of Lords a short while ago.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any control orders made under the Ragwort Control Act 2003 currently in force; and whether there are any plans to make any such control orders.
As the reply he got showed there are no control orders that can be made under the Ragwort Control Act 2003 This is something he would have known if he had done the slightest amount of research before asking the question. There are several copies of the act concerned available on-line.

I should make clear at this point that all though ragwort can be poisonous. Most of the stuff you read, which Norman Tebbit doesn't seem to have checked out, is based on stuff that has been made up
They evidence clearly shows that ragwort isn't really much of a problem at all.

It is not the first time that Tebbit's stance on ragwort has come to my notice.
Robin Page, who is notorious for writing balderdash about ragwort like in his book Messages From a Disappearing Countryside, quoted him in an article in the Daily Telegraph.

Like me, his Lordship is horrified at the amount of ragwort growing free along our roadside verges, and believes that the Government should take action. His solution is that landowners should receive large fines – £500 or 500 pounds of pulled ragwort; that would solve the problem almost overnight.
Well my message to Lord Norman Tebbit is this. Ragwort isn't the problem you think it is. Please get on your bike and do some research before you form your opinions.



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Monday, 11 August 2014

Vandal damages rare fen ragwort

It has been an unusually long period between blog postings. This is not because I have lost interest. It is because there has been a lot of other ragwort stuff to do. Some of it I am likely to blog about in the future.

This blog is largely about Common Ragwort but today I want to go back to the first ever posting I made.
Fen Ragwort a protected plant is not immune 


I documented there someone wanting to destroy this rare native plant which has a wild population in a single ditch in Cambridgeshire! 

Now the plant has been sprayed with weedkiller. It may well be accidental but it would still appear to be a criminal act. The site is, I am told, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is a criminal offence to cause damage to one.The plant is also a listed protected species.Anyone working near this plant should have known to be careful!

Botanist Brian Laney has taken a photograph

The person who did this is  almost without doubt a vandal. As the Oxford English Dicttionary, the accepted authoritative dictionary of English, defines it.

a wilful or ignorant destroyer of anything beautiful, venerable, or worthy of preservation.

So please make a fuss and COMPLAIN! This email address is the only one I can find but it will do the job enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

While you are at it you may care to take note of the hysteria and tell them that if they are enforcing Defra's code on COMMON ragwort they may be endangering this rare plant  FEN ragwort as well as their own reputation. People on social media are already commenting about the link.

I have a lot to do today so I am not going to wtite a long blog entry but these are the salient facts.

Common ragwort is poisonous but the fuss is largely made up. See this blog entry.
See this entry on my website for one example amoung many of how horsey organisations created hysteria
The poisoning is all about risk to animals See this entry to see how attrociously bad Defra's maths is.  (A 16year old school child studying statistics should be better!)





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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Blue Labour encouraging ragwort law breaking?

There is a great deal of bigoted prejudice against ragwort as a plant.  While on  rare occasions where an animal is mistreated it can cause poisoning, as can many other plants, but most of the fuss about it is based on hysteria.  We're used to hearing politicians talking utter twaddle about ragwort like conservative peer Baroness Masham.

This time it is someone who appears to be a  spokesman for organization calling itself Blue Labour who appears to think that ragwort is a cause of mass destruction and should be obliterated.  (He has their web address as the sole item in his Twitter profile.)  Well I have to say that rather like Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction whose existence was believed by many labour politicians, the claims about ragwort are based on poor intelligence.
We have seen a series of tweets , like this.
Bryn Phillips ‏@Bryn__Phillips Jun 1
Far better to pull the fatally poisonous ragwort up if you spot it! @PeterJCook1 @Ragwort_horses @ragwortfacts @HalleysFeeds @BillEllson

Bryn Phillips ‏@Bryn__Phillips Jun 1
@PeterJCook1 @Ragwort_horses @ragwortfacts @HalleysFeeds @BillEllson Pull it wherever it rears its toxic head! Nasty weed

One of the things that concerns me about this is that we frequently find that misinformed and ignorant people are pulling ragwort Willy Nilly all over the place, and that tweets like this will only encourage the practice.  They should remember that it is a criminal offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to remove ragwort from anywhere without the permission of the landowner or occupier.  See this briefing on the law.
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Friday, 30 May 2014

Professor Derek Knottenbelt bonkers quote on ragwort?

I  regularly blog on this issue, and those who follow me know it is a serious matter for me, but there are times when I can't help laughing.  This is an example.  I came across this stuff when I was browsing around for something else and I just burst out laughing.  The level of ignorance that it seems to show is just hilarious.  As regular readers will know, I've established by the means of rational evidence that the fuss about ragwort is clearly and unequivocally exaggerated.  In fact the evidence clearly shows that things have been made up about it.  However, this stuff is just hilariously wrong.  Perhaps it is  not quite so obvious to those people who don't study the subject, but to someone like me who would have known this was wrong at the age of seven, it is so hilariously wrong I just can't help laughing.  To put it into  context,  imagine somebody claiming that flies are poisonous to spiders, or that carrots are poisonous to rabbits.

It is also very important to realise, humour aside, that the academic concerned has been very very active in the matter of encouraging control of ragwort. He has been quoted and quoted repeatedly all over the press and giving many talks to influential people.

This claim is a quote in a book from Professor Derek Knottenbelt.  The professor is well known to people who work in the ragwort field.  Suffice it to say that the people who I deal with who are experts in the field do not seem to be particularly impressed with him.  For example, he claimed in a  letter in a newspaper that our common ragwort was causing serious problems in South Africa.  I checked with  the experts there and there doesn't seem to be any record of the plant ever growing there.

The quote is in a book called The Horse and Pony Care Bible in Association with Horse and Hound.  This book was published in 2007.  The only question I would have as a rational person is,  is the quote accurate?  I'm afraid given what I've seen the professor saying before it seems entirely credible to me.  In any case it seems to bring the book into total disrepute.  From where I'm standing no one with any proper knowledge of entomology would ever make a statement like this.

Professor Knottenbelt is quoted as saying: -
`I would not normally advocate the eradication of any species, but this one has nothing to offer. I don't accept that eradicating ragwort would eradicate the Cinnabar Moth, which feeds on it. Ragwort is burgeoning and the Cinnabar is declining. In fact, I believe it is being poisoned. The moth was common throughout the years that ragwort was rare and now that ragwort is widespread, Cinnabar Moths are difficult to find. If we care about the moth, we have to find out why its population is declining in the face of an ad lib supply of "feed'.

This seems so ridiculous to me that it  is hard to know where to begin.  The most obvious hilarious thing is of course that the Cinnabar Moth uses  ragwort as a natural food.  In fact it seems essential that the ragwort alkaloids are present in the plant to enable it to be eaten.  Without the alkaloids the moth would ignore the plant.Plants with the alkaloids are the only food. Looking at it rationally, in a calm and considered manner, the only appropriate word to describe this part of the  claim seems to be BONKERS!
  
It is true that the Cinnabar Moth is declining, but what is also clear from the proper government scientific survey which was actually published in the same  year,  2007, is that ragwort is also declining, and what is more,  the decline is a marked one.  The professor has been saying for many years that ragwort is increasing greatly, but all the evidence is that this is not the case.  In fact it seems absolutely clear that the reverse is the case.  Certainly having watched it for many years I can never remember a time when I ever noticed that ragwort was a rare plant.

Of course the real issue over biodiversity and ragwort is not the Cinnabar Moth, but all the other wildlife that depends on it.  It is also vitally important to realise that we know from very clear evidence from a study of population dynamics that even declines in common plants which still leave the plants relatively common can have disastrous effects on the animals which require them for food.  Indeed,  ragwort is mentioned in several of the standard textbooks on this matter.
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Chorleywood Parish Council's Ragwort Error

  A good illustration of the rampant misinformation about which I blog was given by Chorleywood Parish Council with this tweet.
Apr 3
Ragwort poses a serious risk to horses, our Rangers and volunteers remove it from the Common each year, depending on the growing season
The problem is quite simple.  Ragwort does not pose a serious risk to horses in the way in which they describe and they are doing damage to the biodiversity of the common.

The issue is that a lot of people have got hot under the collar for no reason other than being fed false and invented information about ragwort.
For details see this blog posting Ragwort they made it up

We have the statistics. We have the science. We have the information. Ragwort is poisonous but it is not normally a serious risk to horses.

Let's just remember when complaints were made about companies who were repeating the nonsensical hysteria that has been put around. The Advertising Standards authority, who are impartial and independent took action and the adverts were stopped. See British Horse society rapped by Advertising Standards Authority


Ragwort poisoning occurs because horses are abusively starved into eating it or because it is present in significant quantities in hay. They instinctively avoid it when it is growing.

One of the prominent myths is that every tiny piece of ragwort that might be ingested causes harm. Well if you'd spent as much time as I have pouring over books and scientific papers as I have you would know this isn't correct. There are many things which serve to prevent this.

One important example of the factors which prevent low doses of the alkaloids in ragwort from causing harm can be explained by a parallel with paracetemol.
Paracetemol is harmless at low doses and a liver poison in overdose.
It is prevented from poisoning the liver by a chemical called glutathione.
In overdose the body's store of glutathione is used up and poisoning begins.

Glutathione is one of the chemicals which interacts and inactivates the toxic
breakdown products of the alkaloids in ragwort and it is not the only factor.


One of the things that often comes up when discussing it is what about Defra's advice. There are several reasons why you should be cautious about this.

First believing in an authority like this just because it is an authority is one of the worst possible errors you can make in science. It is so old an error it has several Latin names.  One is, "ipse dixit", apparently referring  to the followers of Pythagoras.  It means, "he himself said it".  It doesn't matter who says something it is the evidence that makes something right not the source of the information.

In fact, Defra have messed it up badly. In short they haven't a clue!
I blogged before about it as Defra ragwort code of practice nonsense.
and boy is it  nonsense. Their statistics wouldn't get a GCSE pass!
Click on that link and you will see that I have an explanation and an expert saying that if you do something like that then,"you're an idiot". It is rare  you can say this in science but their treatment of the evidence is utterly crazy.

The final reason for not stating that people should follow authority is that those in the know will think badly of your abilities or even that you may have something missing upstairs. It has been well studied and a personality trait of following authority is well established to be linked with decreased intelligence, what is more there is some pretty good evidence that this is associated with having fewer brain cells in a certain part of the brain.

For more information there are these two websites.

Ragwort facts

Ragwort myths and facts

The last of these two sites is written by someone who was originally a member of a ragwort extermination group, but she studied the scientific evidence and now debunks the evidence with the help of a stellar cast of international experts.

Finally as ragwort is one of the most important wildflowers for biodiversity. You can read about this here.

Ragwort weed or wildflower.








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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Messages From A Disappearing Countryside Ragwort Nonsense From Robin Page

Messages From A Disappearing  Countryside is a recent book by Robin Page. It contains a chapter, "The March of the Ragwort Ravers", which is based on an article which he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

I have decided to mark New Years Day by making a blog entry to describe my honest opinion of this chapter of the book. To put it succinctly , it is lousy and it could be used as a masterclass in how not to make an argument.

He starts like this:-

It was kind of Gill Ling of Suffolk to suggest in the Correspondence columns of The Daily Telegraph that I should become a 'ragwort-eradication champion.' Lulu spotted her letter. It is sad that the march of this highly toxic, noxious weed is so rapid that it will take more than me to eradicate it.
It is a constant theme of the article that ragwort is increasing, in fact all the evidence including a properly conducted government survey is that this is not the case. The survey actually shows a marked decrease.

He continues with this piece of rather abusive name calling.

At the same time the advance of ragwort has become accompanied by the growth of what can only be described as 'ragwort groupies', ragwort worshippers who give the plant a conservation importance it does not have. They describe the proven toxicity of ragwort as being 'myth' and `scaremongering'.
This is a classic example of a well-known bad argument called a "Strawman argument". You misrepresent your opponent's argument and then debunk the misrepresentation. The reality is that no-one that I know on this side of the debate denies that ragwort is toxic. The myths and scaremongering are really very evident. They misrepresent the toxicity and tell falsehoods about the plant. Page himself is guilty of telling one of the common myths; a falsehood which makes the plant look worse as I will cover below. The evidence shows that the claims of it killing thousands of animals and being a serious danger are clearly false.

The reason of course that there is a reaction is that rational people who know the science and who are keen on conservation are appalled by the bad arguments, such as Page's, and react against it. This blog is one example of that.

Later in the chapter he says:-
"All my life I have tilted at windmills. Nearly all the out windmills have been much bigger than me and they have  usually won. "

Does he not realise what educated readers will make of this statement? The concept of tilting at windmills comes from Cervantes classic novel Don Quixote where Don Quixote is portrayed as  insanely attacking an imaginary enemy in the form of windmills which he deludedly thinks are giants. It would seem that Page's ragwort ravers are , in the form that he sees them, an imaginary enemy too.

He continues with another really bad argument:-

I do like the myth that countless insects love to visit the flowering heads of ragwort. In my last chapter I mentioned the National Trust's wonderful Collard Hill with its wild-flowers and butterflies. When I was there with Lulu, we specifically looked at the flowering ragwort, (Note to the National Trust: there was far too much of it.) Sorry, ragwort groupies. The large number of nectaring butterflies and other insects were choosing the red clover, flowering bramble, pyramidal orchids and so on. The ragwort was deserted.
This another lousy argument that is putting anecdote over evidence. It may be that he didn't notice many insects on ragwort on that occasion but that does not negate the mountain of evidence that insects do use it.  Collard Hill is a nature reserve with lots of nectar sources. Ragwort often grows in places where few other wildflowers occur.
To quote Buglife (and indirectly English Nature) who ARE the experts on this matter.(I know this to be true also from over a decade of personal reseach.)

At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare.

Ragwort is also an important nectar source for over one hundred species (117, says English Nature) of butterflies (Small copper is just one), bees, moths, flies and other invertebrates, helping to maintain insect populations generally in the UK countryside.
Yet another ignorant statement follows :-

 Yes — the ragwort plant is the foodplant of the attractive Cinnabar moth — but the Cinnabar moth managed before ragwort was allowed to get out of control.
Ragwort hasn't of course increased as we know from the evidence I stated above and again the Cinnabar Moth isn't the main issue again as I state above. In fact the evidence shows the Cinnabar Moth has declined severely. A recent study shows that  decreased by 67% over a forty year period.


Then there is this piece of really bad writing:-

It should be illegal for landowners to have ragwort on their land, but the obvious facts show that local councils, the Highway Agency and Network Rail couldn't care less, and nothing is done about them. In my view the police, Defra and Trading Standards should implement the law fully. If I failed to pay my council tax I would be prosecuted. If those councils that take my tax do not abide by laws affecting them, why are they not prosecuted?
His first sentence makes it clear that ragwort ISN'T an illegal plant by the use of the word "should" but then he acts as if it actually IS illegal. The reason it seems
is that  his original article in the Daily Telegraph said :-

It is illegal for landowners to have ragwort on their land but certain local councils, the Highways Agency and Network Rail are often in flagrant breach of the law Nothing is done about it but, in my view the police, Defra and Trading Standards should enforce the law.

There were complaints about the  article and Page was forced to print a retraction.It contains a falsehood. It is not illegal for landowners to have ragwort on their land. and just imagine the consequences of classifying a  common wildflower as illegal. Would little old ladies be under threat of prosecution for having overgrown gardens?
The idea is preposterous.


The poor information continues :-
  
Professor Derek Knottenbelt of Liverpool University, the country's leading authority on the toxicity of  ragwort, will not eat honey from areas infested with ragwort, neither will his family, which immediately takes Scottish   honey off their menu. It is astonishing that the Food Standards Agency has little information on the subject, although  the incidence of liver complaints is rising steadily.
Students of logic and rational thinking will know that it is rarely a good idea to make an argument from authority. Any authority may not have the correct evidence
In my honest opinion Professor Knottenbelt could not be accurately described as a leading  authority on the toxicity of ragwort. He is without doubt a veterinary expert but it seems to me that every time he says something about the plant there are problems with his claims. Such as when Professor Knottenbelt wrote a letter to the Yorkshire Post. claiming among other things that ragwort was a big problem in South Africa. I  checked this and the experts there say that there is no evidence that the plant even grows there.

Subsequent to the original writing of this original blog entry, I discovered a hilariously bonkers quote from the Professor claiming that the cinnabar moth was being poisoned by its natural and essential foodplant and blogged about it.


In fact the issue of honey and ragwort was looked at some years ago, and the conclusions were that it was not a problem. The rise in liver complaints has a far better explanation, in the form of  the rise in binge drinking.

 And yet again Page repeats  myths:-

 If the build-up in cattle is slow, young, fattened beef animals will arrive , on our dinner tables before ragwort kills them; however,   their livers could already contain an accumulation of ragwort  toxins. Again there appears to be little research being   undertaken on the possible threat.
The toxins in ragwort are broken down in the process of exerting their toxicity so they do not accumulate in animals livers. The problem was studied years ago. There is plenty of research. It is not a problem
See this article on ragwort and meat.

All in all my honest opinion is that Page's chapter on ragwort and the almost identical article in the Daily Telegraph are a disgrace, showing poor research, poor logic and poor understanding of the issue.
Page self-publishes his books, being unable to find a publisher. Seeing this and other articles I think I can see why!





At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare.
Ragwort is also an important nectar source for over one hundred species (117, says English Nature) of butterflies (Small copper is just one), bees, moths, flies and other invertebrates, helping to maintain insect populations generally in the UK countryside.
- See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.1hXnykrB.dpuf
At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare.
Ragwort is also an important nectar source for over one hundred species (117, says English Nature) of butterflies (Small copper is just one), bees, moths, flies and other invertebrates, helping to maintain insect populations generally in the UK countryside.
- See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.1hXnykrB.dpuf
At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf

At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf

At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf

At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf

At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf
At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf
At least 77 invertebrate species have been recorded eating Ragwort leaves, or living in the stems and flowers. About 52 of these are known to regularly feed on Ragwort and, more importantly, 30 species are entirely dependant on Ragwort, the Cinnabar moth for example, a beautiful macro moth. About a third of these 30 species are scarce or rare. - See more at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/campaigns/ragwort-weed-or-wildflower#sthash.AMK8FP6o.dpuf





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