Oxford Lead Symposium published

800px-7.5_CartridgesAlmost a year ago, a group of scientists met in Oxford to review the evidence for lead impacts on people and wildlife.  The shooting organisations were invited  and almost to a man, showed their lack of interest in the science of this subject, and boycotted the event. Is it possible they spent the day looking for some sand in which to bury their heads?

It’s a very meaty report and should attract some media attention today.

Here are some quotes:

The Lord Krebs Kt, MA, DPhil, FRS, FMedSci, Hon DSc: ‘Lead ammunition may be traditional but
it is doubtful whether future generations would perpetuate a tradition of knowingly adding lead to food or exposing wildlife to poisoning.‘.

Professor Chris Perrins, LVO, FRS: ‘Then, as now, the stakeholders involved appeared to have some sort of blind-spot when it came to seeing lead as a poison.’ andNowadays, no one can be oblivious to the issues of lead because of the damage to human health, particularly children’s health due to impacts on their developing brains. Eating food with lead purposefully shot into it, of course, now seems like a bad idea.‘.

Professor Ian Newton OBE, FRS, FRSE: ‘My own view is that a legislative ban is needed on the use of lead in all ammunition used for hunting. At one stroke this would alleviate the problems created for people (especially the hunters themselves), for wildlife and for domestic livestock by this unnecessary but highly toxic material.’.


So, Rory Stewart and Defra – get on with it!  For heaven’s sake what’s the delay about? This is a simple health issue, wildlife and human health, with a very simple solution.

Please sign the Rob Sheldon’s e-petition to ban lead ammunition – which is entirely in line with what these three eminent scientists are saying.


And I’ll come back to this report in more detail during the day.


12 Replies to “Oxford Lead Symposium published”

  1. This got a mention on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

    It will be interesting to see how this runs.

    Off into the hills so I’ll come back this evening to see details of the report in your blog.



  2. I heard a day or so ago this was the paper you meant. It is disappointing in some ways as I thought you were referring to an innovative new study, and this is not peer reviewed Imo. Part of the team does not count. I think there is a positive bias not yet addresses and that is the wwt estimates of ingested lead shot incidences much like the hunting bias lead poisoned birds will flock to a well fed lake. Happy to be corrected but I don’t know Debbie to ask.

    Much appears out of date and again as i have said the research in the UK on wild wetlands is thin on the ground.

    All that said I too see no reason to not stop using lead for hunting. I don’t see why it couldn’t continue at designated clay shooting grounds.

    1. Tom – it is peer reviewed as I understand it and with independent editors.

      I can’t quite see about what you are quibbling.

  3. I don’t see independent editors, and most likely reviewed by other authors in the symposium as that is how these things work. But put that aside and ask why, if this is new independent research, why has it not been sent to an independent and high(er) impact journal. Its not that it is not good enough, but it certainly is good work, but it is not new. I should be clear that I am talking about Debbie’s paper and nit the entire symposium in that context.

    So yes I do quibble as I think this particular policy area would benefit if exposure work had been undertaken extensively since LAG began. It could have been citizen led so less expensive. I think, assuming a lead ban not going ahead by next October, I will take this mantle up myself.

    Generally it is disappointing that there has not been effort to explore 1) exposure currently by lead shot counts across UK wetlands as a function of use and change of use, 2) %ingested shot in fowl in UK away from fed traps and 3) same for other wild birds in non-wetland habitats in the UK. But of course this is just a shame, why should the shooting community expect WWT to pay for such work. WWT don’t need to as their case is sound, even though not entirely complete.

    So while I do quibble, its not to say that these are reasons to not say that lead is poisoning birds. But it is to say more than should have been, it has been said that lead is still poisoning waterfowl to the extent it did in the past, as the analysis makes too many assumptions to test that hypothesis safely.

    Don’t you agree?

  4. Both. One has, and will continue, to lead to the other has it not. Management of lead risks to wildlife have started and are increasing thanks to the research undertaken in the past. Including by Debbie.

    As was said earlier today by a colleague, on this issue there is no shortage of science. It has become too political for discussion to ensue. You get called traitor on both sides if you wish a discussion in seems. Yes sure I love the subject, always have, and I am being pernickety. I have no objection to the principle of a lead ammunition ban. What I am most saddened by, and of course this is largely a failure by shooting media and organisations, that there has to be a them and us approach. Part of that comes from research only being led and funded by WWT. The collaboration ended about 5-8 years ago it seems.

    Many within the shooting community are on board, and increasingly so, but they have questions about why there is not current research, getting close to decades after the original lead shot wetlands ban in England……. and given the direction to RCUK to have more societal and policy impact it is perhaps time to look at that.


    1. Tom – the shooting community has had over five years domination of the Lead Ammunition Group to bring forward all the science they can. They haven’t and they don’t.

      This has been more than a failure by shooting – it has been an abject failure to recognise the public interest. It is shameful – truly shameful.

      Ten years ago shooters were admitting in private that lead had to go and yet the shooting community still opposes this in public despite little cost of doing it and large public cost of not doing it.

  5. I think they have done a not bad job on the human health risks debate – re everything else yes I completely agree

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