Biased reporting

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Your article “European ruling puts Moors at risk” in the 10 August edition was biased, and the lack of a byline raised the suspicion that it was a rehashed press release from the NFU or Moorland Association.

The ban on the pesticide Asulam was not a random EU decision, but was put in place because Asulam contains dubious residues and impurities, and because it is a high risk to bird life.

Also, the EU ban on the substance was put in place after several reviews, including one by the British government, and appeals by the company that produces Asulam.

The whole process has taken several years and involved a number of studies.

The quotes in the articles from a moorland manager were alarmist, unbalanced and even contradictory.

In one quote, it was said that Asulam has been “safely used for 35 years”, but that there will be economic devastation in the countryside if its use is stopped.

So what did landowners use before Asulam became available 35 years ago? Were the moorlands somehow impossible to manage before then? Of course not.

Spraying (usually aerial spraying) of the substance is the cheap, easy way, which is why landowners want to keep doing it, despite the risks of negative environmental impacts.

A University of Liverpool study found that Asulam wasn’t even especially successful for controlling bracken, resulting in long-term bracken control on only a quarter of sites. A more traditional approach - cutting back the bracken annually, and displacing it using trees and other plants - was far more successful.

Stephen Gardner, Brussels based journalist and sometime Whitby resident, by email