On 5th August 2007 the major British newspaper The Daily Mail published an article about ragwort. It was full of incorrect information. Their statements are in italics below followed by the correct information.
"The British Horse Society believes up to 6,500 horses die every year from Ragwort poisoning."
Well it does seem to be true that the British Horse Society were saying this. They don't seem to be doing so now because they have been challenged about it and the evidence does not support it.
When similar claims were repeated, by people selling ragwort related products, this led to advertisements being stopped after action by the Advertising Standards Authority.
"But the ragwort vigilantes may also be putting themselves at risk. The plant's toxins can be absorbed through the skin or breathed in as pollen grains. Inside the human body, the poisons begin damaging liver cells, a slow and irreversible process leading to cirrhosis, months or even years later."It is unlikely that anyone would be harmed by the pollen grains. We know from the biochemistry that small doses will have no effect. The poisoning by skin absorption story is apparently nonsense with no real evidence to properly support it at all. We also know quite clearly that the biochemical evidence there also is against it. For a technical debunking. See. Ragwort poisoning in humans
"There's no evidence that these plant-pulling parties have slowed the weed's advance across the British countryside. Each year, ragwort invades new land - its spread aided by the EU's long-running set-aside scheme under which farmland is taken out production and left to wild species. Botanists estimate that the annual rate of spread is around ten per cent."The ten per cent figure has every appearance of having being made up out of thin air. In fact there has been a proper government survey and ragwort has actually decreased.
"A single stalk with its multiple flowers can produce 200,000 seeds in one season. They can survive in the soil for up to 16 years awaiting an opportunity."The 200,000 seeds figure is exaggerated beyond all reason and doesn't appear to be based on anything from the scientific literature. This figure seems to grow from publication to publication like the boastful claims of a fisherman and his extra large fish. Many plants will produce less than a quarter of this amount. For proper figures see ragwort seed production. Also the Advertising Standards Authority banned an advert claiming only 150,000 seeds because it was a false claim that was not in accord with reality.
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