by Ian Summerell, Gunmaker
I’m a time served, qualified gunsmith. I’ve been in the gun trade and actively shooting for over forty years. I now have serious concern about the scientific basis for proposing any future lead shot ban in England. I also now question the existing lead shot ban for wildfowling already in place. I’ve have been looking closely into the lead studies that have been carried out, and the Lead Ammunition Group (LAG).
The LAG was asked by DEFRA, under the last Labour Government, to advise them on the use of lead shot. It is made up of interested bodies chaired by the BASC Director John Swift and has a number of sub-groups.
LAG are looking at a number of scientific papers, and one of the papers being considered by LAG, is from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), which is a study into our compliance with the lead shot ban in England. Assisted by BASC and the CLA, this report is called “Compliance with the environmental protection (restriction on use of lead shot) (England) Regulations 1999”
Why is the LAG looking at COMPLIANCE with the law?
The WWT report, I believe could be used as supportive evidence for a possible wider ban on the use of lead shot for all shooting. My perception of the report is that although they are not saying it directly, but they seem to be hinting, that a total lead ban for all shooting is the only way to enforce the lead shot ban over wetlands.
The WWT report states on page 12, under the heading, Introduction and Background:
In an analysis of causes of mortality in adult swans in Britain between 1951 and 1989 (Brown et al. 1992), lead poisoning was found to be responsible for 21% (55/264) of deaths, the second greatest cause of mortality after flying accidents which in itself can be related to lead toxicity (Mathiasson 1993; Kelly and Kelly 2005).
I have to question this statement; some Swans fly in from Russia and others from Iceland. They have flown thousands of miles and it could be easily and legitimately argued that the muscle wastage reported in the Mathiasson 1993 paper, may just be because of the energy used up by the birds on their long trip, after which they would be rather exhausted.
The LAG is also looking at compliance with the lead shoot ban for wildfowling, and the WWT report also surveyed shot game sourced from dealers, and found 70% of birds had been shot with lead.
Couldn’t these birds have come from other parts of the UK, or Europe, where lead shot can be used legally? I would have thought that the LAG would have been looking at lead shot used for shooting other than Wildfowling as lead shot is already banned for that type of shooting.
On page 92 of the WWT report there are a number of lovely multi shades of green diagrams relating to the frequency of participation in different types of shooting in the BASC questionnaire. WHY? What has this got to do with the compliance with the ban on lead shot? I do not understand the relevance of the diagrams, they look like computer generated psychedelic pie charts. It seems a rather amateurish attempt to convey an impression of ‘competence’, by the use of worthless drivel, to me. If you don’t know what you are talking about, hide the fact right there where everybody can see it, well camouflaged, eh?
Reading some the scientific papers named on the LAG list to review, it seems they are all beginning to use the same type of presentation, language and submissions as used by the Global Warming scientists, which has now been shown to be fraudulent. Charts, graphs and statements made up to sound like real science and made to look like scientific fact. We now know how the scientists cooked the figures and the computer models with climate-gate and other related fiasco’s, could it be that we’re now looking at lead shot-gate too?
One of the papers on the list is the Sneddon report, they could not find any evidence of lead accumulation in earthworms and small mammals, as an aside, what could possibly be more sensitive to accumulations from any presence of lead, than an earthworm?. It says in its conclusions “It is concluded that managed game shooting presents a minimal environmental risk in terms of transfer of elements such as Pb, As, and Sb, to soils and their associated biota in both shooting woodlands and shooting pastures.”
The LAG is also looking at lead in food. Under an EU directive, food testing can only be done under strict EU guide lines, and the methodology is clearly laid out.
I found this in a report by the Game Group in March 2009 GG/12/03/4 – The report looked at game meat shot with lead shot and consumed ”it can be concluded that the risk to game meat consumers in the UK is low.”
If I did a pseudo-scientific study, on the likelihood of being hit by a meteor when anybody steps outside of their house, using the same baseless mumbo-jumbo that lead shot scientists seem to have used, I would have to conclude that there is an absolutely terrifying risk of being hit by a meteor. Therefore, I would not walk outside of my house in the morning due to that terrifying risk. How absurd!
Some of the scientists reviewing the lead shot research on the LAG and its subgroups have written or been involved with some of the very papers they are reviewing. Is this really an independent review body? Isn’t it looking rather more like climate-gate and the revelation of buddy-gate that so badly corrupted the peer review process?
The plan to ban lead shot for wildfowling goes back a long time now, and goes right to the top of world government. There was an international agreement to ban lead over wetlands, included in the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). The AEWA is funded, and the secretariat is run, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
We are now at the point where DEFRA has withdrawn from the secretariat of the LAG, and it is now being run by BASC. When you are fighting for a defendant you do not go out and find the evidence that is going to convict them. So why are our shooting organisations seeming to strive to find non existent evidence, to shoot ourselves in the foot?
Another of the papers being looked at by the LAG, is a review of evidence concerning the contamination of wildlife and the environment arising from the use of lead ammunition, The Food and Environment Research Agency report called “A report to Defra by Roger Quy
The conclusions of the report says that, “the distinction between background lead levels and abnormal lead levels is not well-defined”. The conclusions of this report show that the distinction between background lead levels and abnormal lead levels is not well-defined and obviously buried well within the small +/- measurement tolerances of the measuring equipment used.
In one part of the conclusions it uses the words, “it seems reasonable to assume” This is assumption, whether reasonable or not, this is not Science. Costly studies and even more costly consequences of those studies, to the Nation and its Citizens, when any assumed benefits obviously can’t even be measured, does not appear to be a sustainable approach to what is now obviously a non-problem.
There is NO hard scientific proof that lead shot is the cause of any lead poisoning of birds, mammals or humans. That is my conclusion of the obvious from reading the scientific papers.
We wouldn’t want the ‘cure’ to be worse than the ‘disease’?
It is clear that the UN has managed to get itself stuck with an unnecessary agenda to ban lead shot at some point in the future. We need to wake up and smell the coffee, and become active for the retention of lead shot use.
The organisations representing shooting should be lobbying for a full and Public Inquiry before any extension of the lead shot ban is considered. If there is to be a ban it should be a real Act of Parliament, not just a Statutory Instrument that was use to ban lead shot for wildfowling.
Therefore, given that there seems to be such a clear absence of any evidence base research that would justify considering a wider ban of lead shot for all types of shooting. Shouldn’t we be looking rather closely at the existing ban on lead shot use for wildfowling, with a view to reversing the Statutory Instrument?