As recorded in Hansard, during debate on what became the Ragwort Control Act on 21st March 2003 Jonathan Djanogly MP made a number of peculiar statements on ragwort that appear to have no proper basis in fact.

" All the figures available suggest that equine liver disease caused by ragwort poisoning killed at least 500 horses last year, and will probably kill 1,000 this year."

This story has appeared in several places in the equine media. however it has no apparent basis in fact at all. Companies repeating it to sell products have been forced to stop doing so after action by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The possible source of this claim appears to have been Professor Derek Knottenbelt. Who is a well known anti-ragwort campaigner. He has made a number of apparently very questionable claims and said, for example, that our ragwort is a problem in South Africa when botanical experts say that it is apparently unknown there.

"Whatever the numbers involved in ragwort poisoning, it is clear that the plague of ragwort and its rapid increase since the strange disappearance of the cinnabar moth 10 years ago mean death for horses The reasons for the disappearance of the cinnabar moth have been discussed today; my findings tend to support the opinion of the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac). In effect, the moth is a victim of its own success, having munched its way through the vast reserves of the weed at some time in the past."

This is a really bizarre claim. There is a government survey on proper scientific lines that shows that ragwort was decreasing over this period.

The story of the Cinnabar moth disappearing is a well known myth. The moth has declined in numbers but the data from the monitoring stations show that it was still present over the country as it always has been

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