In the September/October 2006 issue of British Horse magazine, the newsletter of the British Horse Society they published a readers letter asking about ragwort. The letter and the reply from a staff member created a false impression of the danger of ragwort. They printed scary falsehoods which raised false awareness of the plant. This is typical of their general trend of behaviour, printing frightening claims that are at odds with reality.


The letter from Jane P.P. Buckley from Cumbria contained a number of errors.


ERROR: Ragwort was outlawed as an obnoxious weed in the late 1920s, I think

FACT: Ragwort has never been outlawed as a weed in the UK.See Ragwort and the law.

ERROR: Ragwort is addictive.

FACT: There is no evidence from the scientific literature that ragwort contains addictive substances.


There was a reply from Beccy Palmer Acting Senior Executive in the Welfare Department which also contained errors.


ERROR: Over recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the weed is getting out of control.

FACT: A government survey covering this period and published in 2007 showed a significant decline in ragwort.

ERROR: Horses are particularly susceptible with associated deaths per annum estimated to be in the hundreds.

FACT: The statistics used to estimate these figures are wrong mathematically. In any case the animal hospital that was supposedly the source of large numbers of deaths, upon which the bad statistics were based, actually recorded no cases whatsoever of liver damage which could have been consistent with ragwort over a five year period.

ERROR: There are also growing concerns about the threat this toxic weed poses to human health.

FACT: This sounds scary and will frighten people but in fact there is no evidence at all that ragwort poses any significant risk to human health in the UK.

ERROR: Due to advances in veterinary science and diagnostic techniques it has become more apparent how dangerous this weed actually is and the diagnosis of the toxins in post-mortem has identified greater numbers.

FACT: There is no test which can definitely identify ragwort poisoning in animals with any real certainty. The characteristic changes are also caused by toxins produced in mouldy feed. See Ragwort poisoning no test can confirm it 100% There is also no evidence that there is an increase in the number of these kind of cases being diagnosed.

Ragwort Home

Ragwort Myths

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Ragwort Horse deaths

Ragwort law

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