Lead is a poison.
We have removed lead from paints, water pipes, fishing weights, and most significantly from petrol. All of these changes were opposed by vested interests at the time and no-one is asking for those changes to be reversed these days (see here, here, here, here)
Symptoms of high lead levels are various.
Consumption of one game meat meal per fortnight (of small game such as pheasants, grouse, pigeons, partridges, shot with lead shot) will reduce child IQ by 1 point.
An expert group, whose existence is partly down to me when I worked at the RSPB, and on which I sat until I left the RSPB, has produced a report whose findings have been in the public domain for months, even though Defra is mysteriously sitting on the actual report. The findings of that group recommend that lead ammunition should be phased out as:
- Safer alternatives to lead ammunition are now available and being improved and adapted all the time for use in different shooting disciplines. There is considerable experience from other countries where change has already been undertaken.
- There is no evidence to suggest that a phase out of lead ammunition and the use of alternatives would have significant drawbacks for wildlife or human health or, at least, none that carry the same scale of risks as continuing use of lead; though there are procedural, technical and R&D issues still to work on and resolve.
- There is no convincing evidence on which to conclude that other options, short of replacement of lead ammunition, will address known risks to human health, especially child health
The UK government agreed at an international meeting in Quito in autumn 2014 to phase out the use of lead ammunition in three years – and has, as yet, not done a thing.
Countries such as Denmark banned the use of lead ammunition a couple of decades ago – shooters wouldn’t want it back.
There are no real problems for shooters in switching to ammunition which is non-toxic and which avoids all these harmful impacts.
Banning lead ammunition isn’t difficult – lots of countries, and states in the USA, have done it.
Banning lead isn’t banning shooting – it’s banning poisoning our environment and our food.
Defra is sitting on a scientific report which comes to the conclusion that lead ammunition should be banned and has been inactive for over seven months. This is a scandal.