On 17 Oct 2003 Baroness Masham made the following comments during a debate on what became the Ragwort Control Act

The comments are below and are followed by corrections giving the facts.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In so doing, I must declare an interest. I am a vice-president of the British Horse Society, ......

I feel most honoured to have been asked by Mr John Greenway, Member of Parliament for Ryedale, whose Private Member's Bill it is, to take it through your Lordships' House. Ragwort has become a scourge in the countryside and has increased alarmingly in the past few years.

This is incorrect. As the Baroness was told later in the debate. Surveys show that it has not increased. Subsequent to this debate, the 2007 UK Countryside Survey shows significant declines of ragwort. This is an indication that over all ragwort is likely to be static or declining.

I am told that each plant can produce between 150,000 and 250,000 seeds that, once airborne, can travel up to 10 miles.

This is not true. 150,000 would be a very high and exceptional figure. Some years later a lealet produced by an equine charity was banned as misleading by the Advertising Standards authority for just claiming that each plant produces 150,000 seeds the lower limit of the Baronesses claim. 250,000 is way way too high to be normal. For the surveyed figures see ragwort seed production. Normally the seeds only travel a few metres see Ragwort dispersal

The seeds can lie dormant for 20 years in the soil before germinating.

After this amount of time, few if any of the seeds would germinate,

It is estimated that about 500 equines die each year, but that number will rise unless something positive is done.

This figure was commonly talked about at the time. The basis is now known and it is known to be wrong. For further analysis see Ragwort doesn't really kill many horses.

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Ragwort Myths

Ragwort dispersal

Ragwort Horse deaths

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Common misleading statements about Ragwort