That this House is concerned that 500 horses died from liver damage due to ragwort poisoning in 2001 and that 1000 deaths are predicted in 2002;This is nonsense! Subsequently the statistical method for working out the 500 figure was published in a letter to a newspaper . It is completely wrong. It extrapolates from an unrepresentative sample in a way that is absolutely statistically invalid. Furthermore the sample was supposedly from an animal hospital at an university and requests under the Freedom of Information Act show that that hospital got no cases whatsoever of ragwort type poisoning over a five year period. Also there is no Ragwort poisoning test that can establish it as a cause with certainty. The idea that poisoning would double in a year would appear to be based on the idea that ragwort was increasing rapidly and not on any real evidence. In fact a later government survey showed that ragwort actually decreased markedly.
is also concerned that the toxin in ragwort is poisonous to cattle and sheep as well as humans, so humans may, unwittingly ingest the toxin;
There is no risk to humans from ragwort. Humans do not eat it!.There is also no risk eating meat which would come from animals which would have have consumed ragwort. This is the case because because the toxins are actually breakdown products and the biochemical research shows that they are only going to be present in minute amounts. These are actually chemically bound up in the process of being toxic.
The research shows that actual act of being toxic leads to their destruction. Even if this were not the case there are so many other non-toxic ways in which they can e inactivated by other chemical substances in the in the body that the effect would be to small to measure. For technical details including references see Ragwort - Does it make meat toxic? No it does not!
notes that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, landlords [sic] are legally obliged to remove ragwort from their land; and calls on the Government to become proactive in preventing the irresponsible spread of ragwort.
First of all this is actually poor use of English. The Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted definitive source of the meaning of English language words It states this as the meaning of landlord in modern English - " In recorded use applied only specifically to the person who lets land to a tenant. Hence (perhaps already in 16th c.) in widened sense (as the correlative to tenant): A person of whom another person holds any tenement, whether a piece of land, a building or part of a building." The proper word that should have been used is landOWNER.
Even discounting the incorrect English usage the statement is incorrect. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part III provides a council with powers to deal with areas of land that are contaminated by pollution. It does not contain any powers or words that relate to any aspect of weeds or ragwort. It is absolutely clear that it does not create any obligation to remove ragwort. This site has a briefing about the Town and Country Planning Act Section 215.This piece of legislation once again again doesn't make the removal of ragwort removal. It makes no statements about ragwort. It is a council's power to make LANDOWNERS tidy up untidy areas of land that they own.
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