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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

June 2014

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Wednesday 25th June 2014

There's been a lot of interest, recently, in the effect on bees and other pollinators of neonicotinoid insecticides and since this is national insect week I thought it would be a good time to look at the issue of bees and poisonous plants in my series of 'Poisonous Plants 1-2-1' videos.

I have written about neonicotinoids before and, it seems to me that, in the UK at least, not much new has happened since then because there has continued to be a stream of 'research' saying these chemicals do no harm and voices saying they should be banned before it is too late continue to be largely ignored. In the USA, however, President Obama has announced the creation of a multi-agency task force to look at all the issues involved with the health of bees...more

Tuesday 24th June 2014

Today, Catha edulis, khat, becomes a Class C substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA). It has taken nearly a year for the classification to take effect after the announcement, last July, that led me to destroy my own plants and video their destruction.

You might ask why, if the classification is as necessary as Home Secretary Theresa May claims, it has taken this time to implement the decision. If khat is harmful then May has willingly allowed more harm to be done by not acting faster. But, asking that question is to suggest that there is any logic in the decision and there is not...more

Sunday 22nd June 2014

I noticed that I have quite a large Heracleum sphondylium, hogweed or cow parsnip, in the garden. It's not really a garden plant and, if I'd seen it before, I would have removed it.

As it was more or less mature and partially in flower I took the opportunity to get some footage to illustrate the latest 'Poisonous Plant 1-2-1' video about the other plants that can make the skin sensitive to ultra-violet light...more

Monday 9th June 2014 

I shall be keeping a watch for any new paper about ricin, the toxin found in the seeds of Ricinus communis, the castor oil plant. I’m not saying I expect to be fascinated by the subject of the paper because I can’t be certain of that. But, I do know that I will read the introduction very carefully.

I’ve written about the problem with the introductions of scientific papers before. This early blog entry 18/10/11 explains how the introduction to papers is often packed with references to previous work as a way of establishing the current state of knowledge. It also points out that these references have a tendency to be selective in order to make an argument that fits the researchers’ prejudices....more

Wednesday 4th June 2014

The old saying about one picture being worth a thousand words seems to apply to traffic to this website arriving via search engines. Some time ago, the number of visits resulting from image searches overtook those who typed words into the search box and now those visits dominate.

It was partly the recognition of the growing importance of imagery that led me to start producing my ‘Poisonous Plants 1-2-1’ video series. There are now 23 videos in that series and I’ve reached a pause in producing new items because, with one exception, I don’t have suitable video footage of the plants. That one exception is Cannabis sativa, marijuana, where, so far, I’ve failed to come up with a script that can even begin to tell the story within the time constraint. For other plants, where the story is already partially formed in my brain though not on paper, I’ll try and get some suitable footage over the coming months...more

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