The Countryside Alliance’s position on lead ammunition has always reminded static. The same cannot be said for those that oppose lead. So far they have been unable provide enough scientific rigour on the impact of lead in the environment to justify a ban on lead. Instead, they have tried another tack, human health, to try and curtail the sales of game meat.
This is why we find ourselves in a position where two wildlife scientists, Dr Rhys Green and Dr Debbie Pain, end up publishing a report on human health. Dr Green, is from the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, and describes his research as “effects of human land use and conservation management on populations of birds”. Dr Pain is head of conservation at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, a charity devoted to the preservation of wildfowl.
The pair have jointly published a research paper “Potential health risks to adults and children in the UK from exposure to dietary lead in gamebirds shot with lead ammunition”. Needless to say, the paper is not complimentary about the use of lead. The paper can be found here.
The fact that these two individuals are vehemently against the use of lead ammunition is beyond doubt. The question remains why they should be carrying out research completely out if their field own academic fields, as this motivation for doing so removes any possible impartiality of the study in question.
It should be further noted that both of these individuals sit on the Lead Ammunition Group. Indeed, Dr Pain, in her position at the WWT called for the formation of the Lead Ammunition Group to be set up (letter here) to look at the evidence available. It now appears that the WWT are not content with the LAG process which the called for, and hence have decided to produce their own work. The population of this paper clearly removes any objective contribution either of these individuals can bring to the group.
Finally, the WWT should also be questioned as to their use of charitable funds. Money donated to the charity is done so for the conservation of wildlife, and a favourable tax treatment is gained thorough having charitable status. Using their funds for any human health issues is not only beyond the remit as a wildlife charity, but also do not represent the interest of their financial supporters.
As I said, the Countryside Alliance has remained firm. By doing so, the course of events have not gone the way these people planned. As such, they are left scrabbling around for arguments outside their own area to support their failing arguments. They may see this as a decisive paper, in reality, is it’s a desperate attempt to find a credible way to get lead banned.