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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?
Part 2 Lead Shot-Gate!
Lead shot-gate Part 2:
I posted my 1st article on lead shot in Countryman’s Weekly June 23, onto face book and on my blog [email protected], I have had some very interesting replies. All have been very supportive of the idea that the science around the lead ban has been misleading.
The science for the alternatives to lead, so-called non-toxic shot and ammunition is even more misleading. If the alternatives are being called non-toxic it implies that lead is toxic. Is Lead Toxic?
How toxic is non-toxic shot and ammunition?
We have been told that we should be using non-toxic ammunition not only for wildfowling but other forms of shooting as well. This also includes rifle ammunition. As I reported in the 2nd article the plan to stop us using lead comes right from the top of world government the UN.
Their logic is that lead is toxic and they would like to see the amount of lead in the environment reduced. So our use of lead in all forms has to be reduced. I can understand removing lead from paint and replacing lead water pipes. I can’t see the need to stop us using lead for shooting because of possible misleading and unreliable science.
They can’t tell the difference between the normal lead levels and the abnormal lead level as high lighted in Roger Quy report April 2010 he states in his conclusions “the distinction between background lead levels and abnormal lead levels is not well-defined,”
Have you read any where in the British shooting press that the so-called non-toxic alternatives to lead may be a health risk.
I sat down on the PC for one day and on the Internet I found a web site called Wired.com with one page called ‘Danger Room’ by David Hambling. He reports: “ In the 1990’s the U.S. Army introduced a new set of "green" training ammunition designed to be less toxic and more environmentally friendly than the lead-filled rounds used before. But these new bullets may have left firing ranges contaminated and exposed soldiers to a new health hazard. … The Army has stopped production of the bullets.”
In the same article it was reported that the Massachusetts Governor issued a “cause and desist” order to stop the tungsten based ammunition from being used on the MassachusettsMilitary Reservation.
The ammunition they are talking about is the so-called non-toxic Tungsten based bullets. They could be a greater threat to animal and human health than lead. It is believed by scientists that tungsten alloy fragments can cause tumors.
If they are going to be alarmist about us using lead, we should be more alarmed that the alternatives are toxic and they are not telling us about it.
To back this up, I have found another report.
I’m a member of a chat room based in the United States where a report was posted regarding a story on the Cape Cod Online website, the article called ‘unfriendly fire’ by Amanda Lehmert, reports that on Camp Edwards home to the National Guard they have stop using Tungsten ammunition after health risks.
“the tungsten bullets may not be as green as everyone had hoped. And federal health officials are studying whether exposure to large amounts of tungsten causes childhood leukemia.” Amanda Lehmert writes.
OK that’s two reports, I have also found a third.
The Norwegian Army found health problems with the so-called ‘GREEN’ ammunition as well. The Norwegian Defense research Establishment (NDRE) was asked by the Defense Logistic Organization to look into the health risks of the new army rifle and ammunition.
The Norwegian government kindly let me have an English summary of their report, which found that: “Ammunition contains compounds that can pose a health risk. Hence, it is important that use of ammunition is carried out in a manner that prevents personnel from being exposed at unacceptable levels. After practicing with the assault rifle HK416, recently obtained by the Norwegian Defence, soldiers have from time to time complained about health problems such as coughing, fever, chills, headache, nausea, malign, and sore throat.”
So in one day on the web I have found three different accounts of health risks using the new tungsten so-called ‘Green’ ammunition. If there is this level of concern over tungsten in other parts of the world, why are we even looking at removing lead ammunition for use in this country?
Is lead safer to use in the long term than the so-called green non-toxic alternatives, [I’ll re-type that] ‘that the TOXIC alternatives?
I have been following the debate and web chatter surrounding the environmental scientists and the way they have been funded to produce research that is said to prove that CO2 is the cause of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). After the Climategate emails were posted on the web and we could all see how the once trusted scientists manipulated and distorted the figures and used their ‘hocus pokus’ science to prove AGW was man made. We now know it was all one big scam.
With global warming, Oh, they now call it ‘climate change’, as if that is going to make a difference, its still just one big scam, it is reported that the environmental scientists are being funded by vested interests, governments and alterative energy companies.
One of the co-authors of a scientific paper on tungsten shot published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases in 2001, worked for the Federal Cartridge Company. I’m told by US shooters that the paper was produced to prove that it was safe to use tungsten shot. The trial only lasted 150 days and that they do not know the long term affects of using tungsten shot.
How can we be sure that scientists paid for by governments, and business that have vested interests, are not also manipulating the research into lead and the alternatives?
By using the toxic alternatives to lead for shooting, what problems are we setting ourselves up for in the future?
After climategate how can we ever trust the scientists?
Lead shot gate part 3 By Ian Summerell Gunmaker
Is the LAG fit for purpose?
The Lead Ammunition Group has posted the latest minutes on their web site.
I have concerns that some of the very people we have been lead to believe are on our side as shooters have hidden agendas of their own and we have not been told the whole story regarding lead shot.
Two years ago I was given the minutes of the BASC Research Advisory Committee held on the 18th November 2009, in the hope that I would write a report for one of the shooting magazines.
The recommendation of the research advisory committee to the BASC Council was that members should anticipate a ban on lead ammunition sooner rather than later.
AP3 – MA to recommend to Council in January that bans on lead ammunition are anticipated sooner rather than later and that members should be prepared for early change.
At the next BASC council meeting, the minutes of which you can view online, only say that the minutes of the committee are noted.
From BASC council minutes Jan 2010.
C.1.1. To note the Minutes of the Research Advisory Committee Meeting held on 18th November, 2009
The Minutes of the Research Advisory Committee meeting were noted.
The recommendation was not voted on, so it has not been passed or rejected by the BASC Council. But, I believe that some members of the BASC staff are working to the minutes of the BASC Research Advisory Committee. They are also looking at rifle and air weapon ammunition.
At the same time John Swift was in communications with the labour Government Minster, Hilary Benn MP’s office about lead in ammunition. Huw Irranca-Davies replied to John Swift’s letter saying “I recognise that this is a complex issue and note the concerns of the RSPB, the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust and yourselves. I am not aware of any new research that has been conducted that shows that lead ammunition residues or spent lead shot is a real threat to the conservation of wildlife in general in England.”
Are the BASC working together with the RSPB and the WWT? It very much looks like it reading this.
The most important part of this letter is not the fact that BASC, WWT and RSPB are working together on this, it is that Huw says: “I am not aware of any new research.” So to get over this they are writing the new research themselves.
The WWT had a hand in the Harris report for the Food Standards Agency [FSA] and the BASC and WWT wrote the Cromie report on the Compliance with the environmental Protection (Restriction on the use of lead shot) (England) Regulations 1999, which has been shown to be unreliable.
At a Deer Initiative meeting when John Swift first became chairman of the Lead Ammunition Group [LAG] he gave us a talk about the LAG. His opening line was “There is lead in the food chain we have to find ways to reduce it”.
I was lead to believe that the BASC had to take over the secretariat of the LAG as the government had cut the funding. I later found out that this was misleading. The plan was for the civil service staff to set the committee up and then for the committee to take over the secretariat itself.
In July 2011 at the CLA Game Fair, I started my petition to say no to a wider lead ban for shooting. BASC staff told me that they had been told not to sign the petition, but they did so anyway. On the UCSW stand where I was collecting the signatures, Jeff Knot of the RSPB told me he was on the LAG and he wanted a copy of my Lead Shot-Gate report I had written for the Countryman’s Weekly.
I thought that all the LAG members should have a copy so I emailed the article to the LAG committee direct and asked them to pass it on to all its members. I had a reply from John Swift telling me that the LAG is only looking at peer reviewed scientific papers.
The interesting thing is that Jeff Knott was not a member of the LAG until December 2011 when the Minster appointed him to the committee.
In October last year the WWT was on the BBC news saying they wanted a total lead ban. I recorded it and uploaded the report onto my Youtube channel. So we have the BASC writing to the Minister, a BASC committee recommending members to expect a ban sooner rather than later and the WWT calling for a total ban and both sitting on the LAG.
The LAG was waiting for the Harris report for the FSA to come out before it finishes its work. The report was placed on the FSA web site and the FSA then published its own recommendations, leaving the LAG out in the cold.
That brings us up to the date of the last LAG minutes that can be seen on their web site. You can read the full text there, but here I will pick out some points I would like to comment on.
The minutes are numbered and in italics, my comments are in times roman type.
2.1. The Group was reminded that meetings are conducted strictly under the Chatham House Rule (issues may be discussed outside the meeting but unattributably).
If it is under Chatham House rules, why can we identify people within the minutes, the chairman John Swift, Prof Len Levy and Deborah Pain and that they can have secret meeting outside of the committee?
2.3. All agreed that the Terms of Reference continue to be fit for purpose.
So they have declared themselves “fit for purpose”.
3.2. The Chairman thanked Sir Barney White-Spunner and Mr Mark Tufnell, attending their first Group meeting for agreeing to join the Group; and also thanked all the supporting organisations who continue to support the representatives of the other stakeholder interests.
What is the idea of calling them Stakeholders? More meaningless management speak! Or is it part of Common Purpose?
3.4. The Chairman acknowledged that the Group had fallen behind the originally anticipated time line. He attributed this to the Group’s reliance on experts to do the work of producing risk assessments in their own time, and the need for the risk assessments to meet a very high standard and be properly peer reviewed; the high standard being essential to maximise the possibility for reaching consensus among conflicting interest groups.
So it was all planned and timed? Seems the desired outcome was pre-determined, and they are now whining because the desired outcome is proving difficult to factually establish as legitimate or viable?
3.6. The Chairman acknowledged that some of the public arguments, press and lobbying had been distracting for some; and he reminded the Group that members have a duty not to be distracted.
This is totally out of order. We are members of organisations that have an interest in shooting and our representatives are part of the LAG. We have a right to lobby our own committee members, as a reporter I have the right to question what is being done by the LAG. Sounds like not wanting facts or the truth to get in the way of the agenda to me. More common purpose management ideas?
3.9. The Chairman reported that he had given effort to promote compliance with lead shot regulations over wetlands across Europe as well as in UK. In reply to a question he identified workshops held with other European countries to raise awareness, and noted progress in the Republic of Ireland. He further reported that awareness has been raised that as yet non-compliant countries must take action.
So John Swift is now going around other EU countries telling them, they have to comply with the lead ban over wetlands! "The Law is what we say it is" which is a lawless State.
What right has John Swift got to tell other countries what to do?
More common purpose management at work?
3.10. The view was expressed that non-compliance with the existing legislation in the UK was unacceptable. The meeting noted that there is a perception, based on significant experience, that coastal wildfowling clubs are already compliant and a multi-organisation campaign will soon be launched by the shooting sector to target wider audiences and ensure that they comply.
What proof? What significant experience? So wildfowler’s are good little boys, it’s the other inland shooters we have to target. If the LAG are only going to look at peer reviewed scientific papers, why are they using the WWT/ BASC report on Compliance?
4.4. The PERA Chairman expressed the view that it would have been preferable to have paid for independent scientific experts to conduct the risk assessments. However, this had not been an option and the stakeholder groups had nominated scientific experts to write draft the risk assessments and review the other risk assessments produced by Subgroup colleagues.
I note that the chairman of the PERA (that is the Primary Evidence and Risk Assessment (PERA) subgroup) Prof Len Levy has expressed a view to the committee. Which under Chatham House Rules he should not have been identified. It’s a total farce.
Its like the star trek ‘Borg’ “you will comply!” They are acting like they are working for a dictatorship. That might be how they see their role under the EU?
Is John Swift using his role within Face EU to forward the agenda of the EU, AEWA and the UN, with total disregard to BASC membership and British Shooting folk?
I have to question John Swift’s position as chairman of the LAG. Which master is he working for? I do not think it is the British shooting man or woman or even BASC members.
How can Deborah Pain of the WWT sit on the LAG any longer? She has already come out and said that she wants a total lead ban for all shooting in the UK. The evidence and work from papers of the WWT which Pain played a major role in, were used in the Harris report for the FSA. So now we have a person setting on a committee and writing and reviewing her own work.
Even the chairman of the PERA thinks it should not have been done this way. So the LAG is UNFIT FOR PURPOSE!
Ian Summerell Gunmaker
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