What now? January 31, 2018

OK …so you’re up to speed on Japanese knotweed.  You’ve read the blogs, you’ve been on the web site …you might even have listened to Mike Clough at a presentation or attended a seminar….but ..what have YOU actually ‘done’?

Are you aware that Japanese knotweed is simply one of our problem plants in the UK?  Can you name any others…?  Invasive species are here to stay and are pretty much prevalent on every brown-field site in the UK.  Have you done anything about advising colleagues or updating your risk assessment at the office…?

At the end of the day people like you need to step up and take responsibility for the environment immediately around you.  It would be great to think that your local authority were ‘on the case’ with invasive species… but …they’re not.  It would be great to think that the Environment Agency were ‘on the case’ ….but ….they’re not.

ALL of our government funded bodies are struggling to cope with the increased demands put on them – and I’m afraid that leaves invasive species management as a pretty low priority…..

That pretty much leaves you in charge.

Yes …YOU…

You know when you went for that walk with the dog and spotted new growth of Japanese knotweed by the back of the factory and you identified it?  Don’t just identify it …do something more – tell the factory owner – take a picture – tell the local paper …..channel that Mr Angry vibe that you reserve for your other half when she interrupts the football or when he leaves the kitchen a mess after he’s cooked.

Write that letter – post that picture on Facebook – tweet about it.

If nothing happens then why not have a go at managing the problem with a couple of friends.  Obviously get the landowners permission – don’t go breaking any laws ….but the power of being ‘right’ will get you a long way ….

It’s up to each of us to stand up and be counted.  It’s up to each of us to take a little bit of responsibility for looking after the place in which we live.

By ‘the Place’ I mean planet Earth – don’t just watch David Attenborough and talk about his programmes around the water cooler.

Do something that would make Dave proud of you …

Mike C

Overwhelmed January 24, 2018

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by ‘it’ all?

So many things to think about that your brain just blows a fuse and goes – duuh – “…can’t cope I’m switching off’.

My darling wife recycles everything she can and separates everything into different elements so they can be re-used as efficiently as possible.  She switches lights off and turns the heating down and uses tea bags repeatedly until there is no flavour left in them….

Then you see a programme that shows somewhere in China where all your separated re-cycling ends up in one single humungous big dump.  Then you have a weekend in London and see all the lights left on all night in department stores and office blocks …and you gotta think ….does my downstairs light being switched off make the slightest difference?

We were all advised to buy diesel cars because they were super-efficient and would save the planet …now we’re told diesel is bad and is killing the planet….so we all stop using the Diesel engines.

Then you hear that some entrepreneur is buying up the cheap diesel engines that have lost value… and is selling them to developing countries.  Thus all our ‘saved planet’ notions that we had whilst casting the nasty diesel aside …are fucked …because somebody on the other side of the world is using them instead …and by the way the pollution cloud is coming our way.

Electric is the answer.

Electric everything will sort us out ….cars, lorries, trains, planes and bikes ….all clean and green.  Slight niggle in the back of my mind – where does the electricity come from and wasn’t somebody saying last year that due to increasing demand we would all be getting power cuts over winter.

Have you had a power cut recently …??  We had one the other night ….and everything just stopped.  Stopped dead in our tracks.

Sooooo what happens when we’ve all gone fully electric and somebody fucks with the supply …?  You’re not telling me that some rich bastard hasn’t already invested some money in ensuring that he’s the only one that can regulate the power and screw with us all.

Think back to Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.  It will be like the little guy on the back of the big guy who regulated what power was allowed to those above ground – the methane-based power was generated by pig manure beneath the city.  He just turned it off until the leader of the city apologised and told him he was in charge….

It will be the same – but replace the little guy/big guy combo with some twat based in London who happens to own several power stations.

I am actually trying to combat these feelings of being overwhelmed by just starting with little things.  Little things that are in my power to control – something I can do something about.  I’m hitting back at packaging ….no more Amazon deliveries I’m afraid.

Boxes with boxes with boxes in …are now on my list of the ‘unacceptable’ face of the world we are currently living in.  It’s a small start but I’m now back to going to the shops to buy something rather than sitting on my arse waiting for Harry the delivery guy to come around and bombard me with cardboard.  This achieves two things – it gets me off my arse and reduces the cardboard that I have to re-cycle.

I’m not going electric with my cars – in fact I’m on a mission to have the most petrol engines that I can possibly have. V6/V8 and a V12*….


Mike C

*Note – I may be a little confused with the whole environment vs cars thing …. 😉

Manipulated January 17, 2018

Have you ever noticed that we are all being manipulated?

Whether it’s about the cars we drive or the houses we live in or what we eat and drink …somebody somewhere has a vested interest in how we are being played.

In the movies we all watch we get ‘product placement’ where everyone drives Audi’s (seriously …the bad guy has an Audi, the good guy has an Audi and everyone in between drives an Audi …really ….really!??)

In the newspapers we read everyone has turned vegan and is conscious of saving the planet….and David Attenborough has become a God. Plastic is now the work of the Devil and eating meat is on par with suggesting that cannibalism is acceptable.

Women are now such complexed creatures to deal with that I now think twice about speaking to anybody for fear of causing offence. I cannot be in the office alone with anyone in case of some sort of scandal, whether male or female, so I have to take a chaperone with me everywhere.

Every advert we see on the television has a multi-ethnic family and a representative from each alternate sexual preference whilst every school we see portrayed has a child from every minority group that exists.

It’s all subliminal …

It’s all meant to change our perspective on what is expected of us.

I’m pretty convinced somebody (probably who looks like Jabba the Hutt) is sat somewhere in London manipulating everything so that they can make more money.

Evil voice over – “…let’s make everyone buy Audi’s and let’s make everyone vegan ….and just for a giggle let’s make them all become sexually confused” ….(evil laugh …)…

Be aware people – don’t stand for it – fight back ….buy a Skoda.

Mike C (Audi owner)

Glyphosate – should we be using it? January 16, 2018

In recent news – at least if you read publications at the slightly sensationalist end of the spectrum – the “cancer-causing poison” glyphosate has had its licence renewed by the European Union in what is a blow for public health and a victory for amoral multinational corporations led by Lord Business, Crooked Hillary Clinton and Darth Vader. Or something.

Japanese Knotweed Solutions use a variety of pesticides including glyphosate. We have always taken the safety of our employees seriously, but we had never had any reason to doubt that the glyphosate-based products that we use are non-harmful to human health – as is reflected by their classification on official documents, including the products’ safety data sheets.

Since the publication of the monograph on glyphosate by the IARC (the International Association for Research on Cancer – part of the World Health Organisation), JKSL have kept a close eye on the news, and we have actively carried extensive research on the subject, speaking to experts in the field as well as sceptics. This led to and informed an in-depth decision-making process.

JKSL’s decision was to continue to use glyphosate-based products – because we genuinely believe that our use of glyphosate poses no significant risk to human health – including, and importantly that of our employees.

We asked ourselves a few questions:

Is glyphosate safe?

Glyphosate is not 100% safe – but nothing is. Glyphosate is safer than a whole host of things, including many other pesticides. We are confident that using glyphosate-based pesticides is the safest effective approach in the circumstances where we use it. Glyphosate is of very low toxicity compared to many other products.

“Acute toxicity” describes exposure to a large amount of a substance in a short time frame – such as you would see if someone accidentally ingested herbicide.

In terms of acute toxicity, it’s the dose that makes the poison – you can die from drinking too much water, or ingesting too much of anything. Glyphosate is no exception – however, glyphosate is one of the least acutely toxic of all available pesticides. It is less toxic than acetic acid (aka vinegar), which is used in some contact herbicides, and glyphosate is less toxic than salt, aspirin and caffeine.

“Chronic toxicity” refers to continued exposure over a prolonged period – such as you would expect in a spray operator, especially if no protective clothing was used.

In terms of chronic toxicity, glyphosate has the potential to produce chronic health effects in humans – however, again we come to the question of dosage. It is likely that any exposure to glyphosate through diet is as little as 0.1% of the European Food Safety Authority [EFSA]’s reference dose – the estimated daily exposure that is likely to result in no adverse effects over a person’s lifetime. Exposure for operatives is higher, but only by a couple of times – meaning that even operatives who are regularly spraying glyphosate-based products are likely to receive significantly less than 1% of the amount that would be needed to potentially cause long-term health issues.

Does glyphosate cause cancer?

Basically, no. Glyphosate has not been shown to cause cancer in the real world. In terms of cancer-causing potential (carcinogenicity), glyphosate is not considered a carcinogen by EFSA. What’s more, glyphosate is not even classified as a confirmed carcinogen by the IARC – whose report has been used so widely in headlines and in calls for a ban.

The IARC classifies glyphosate as Group 2a: “probably carcinogenic to humans”, but even this is based on theoretical potential to cause cancer – not the possibility of cancer being caused by real-world exposure. EFSA doesn’t even consider cancer as one of the potential chronic effects that glyphosate could cause, and as we have seen above, real world exposures to glyphosate fall far below the threshold for chronic effects. The possibility of cancer being caused by real-world glyphosate exposure (even glyphosate poisoning) is simply not backed up by any science.

Continuing to explore the IARC classification of glyphosate, the IARC provides a list of Group 1 confirmed carcinogens (the category above glyphosate), which includes:

While some of these are controlled to some degree or other, again, we don’t see MEPs calling for bans on tobacco sales, alcohol or tanning salons, and people are not up in arms protesting the evils of Dulux paint, coal fires or electric sanders. And remember, the list above are all confirmed carcinogens, according to the IARC.

Calls to ban glyphosate on the grounds of protecting public health are misguided and directed at the wrong target. There are potential achievable improvements, particularly in air quality that would have real effects on reducing cancer – but to ban glyphosate on health grounds would not be disproportionate – it would be completely ineffective in achieving its stated goal.

Who do JKSL expose to glyphosate, and how much?

Japanese Knotweed Solutions use glyphosate in relatively small amounts (especially compared to agriculture, but even in comparison to many other amenity contractors). The exposure to our workforce is limited, and the exposure to our clients, their children and pets or their workers should be zero for all practical purposes, so long as the application is done using JKSL’s safe system of work.

Studies have shown that in normal use, exposure to glyphosate for operators falls way below the exposure levels for both acute and chronic toxicity, so we are confident that it’s safe for our staff too.

What about glyphosate in food?

First of all, JKSL don’t normally apply herbicide on or around crops or in other agricultural settings – our work is limited to work in homes, amenity sites and development sites. Where we have carried out herbicide application on grazing land, or adjacent to cropland, this is done at a suitable time of year, and with full consultation of all relevant stakeholders.

Unfortunately, for gardens or allotments that we are treating, we do have to state to our clients that no produce from the garden should be eaten while the treatment program is in progress. However, this is more for technical reasons than because we believe that there is any danger.

The main factors are that we use higher dose rates (as recommended on the product label) for treating Japanese knotweed than you would use in agricultural settings, the applications may exceed the rates allowed for use on crops, and also because the timing of our applications – which generally includes an application late in the growing season – may be later than is allowed by the product label for use on crops. These dose and application rates and application cut-off dates are legal requirements for the use of professional pesticides, so we must follow them.

Ideally, of course, glyphosate wouldn’t be found in any produce at all, but where it is used, there will often be some very small amounts of the herbicide found in the produce. In the UK, we use a system of MRL’s (Maximum Residue Levels) to indicate what the acceptable levels of pesticides are in a variety of different crops.

The MRL is a best-practice guideline, to indicate that pesticides are being used appropriately; MRL’s are not “safe limits” – in fact the safe levels are likely to be many, many times higher for most pesticides. Many of the MRLs are limited by the ability of tests to even detect amounts so small (the limit of detection is currently 0.1mg/kg in the UK, and this is a common MRL for glyphosate in crops).

As a comparison, it’s legitimate under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for your peanut butter to contain up to 30 pieces of insect per 100g before it is classed as contaminated, whereas the UK MRL for Glyphosate in peanuts is 0.1mg/kg – less than one part per million.

If you want a more numerical comparison, the MRL for glyphosate in cocao is 0.1mg/kg but the FDA allows up to 100mg/kg of rodent faeces in raw cocoa – that’s 1,000 (yes, one thousand) times as much rat poop allowed in your chocolate as glyphosate.

So, what did JKSL conclude?

When you get down to it, we are confident of all of the following facts:

But if that ever changes, if new information about health or environmental protection shows us that there are additional risks, or if we are no longer confident that we are doing the right thing, we will stop. Simple as that.

Chris Oliver
Operations Manager

Further reading

IARC list of carcinogens http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/latest_classif.php

HSE information on MRLs http://www.hse.gov.uk/pesticides/topics/reducing-environmental-impact/maximum-residue-levels/mrls-basic-guidance.htm

Is glyphosate carcinogenic? https://www.factcheck.org/2017/08/glyphosate-cause-cancer

On the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate http://fafdl.org/blog/2017/04/13/glyphosate-vs-caffeine-acute-and-chronic-toxicity-assessments-explained/

ECHA finds glyphosate is safe for public use https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/15/no-cancer-risk-to-using-glyphosate-weedkiller-says-eu-watchdog

EFSA removes barriers to glyphosate renewal https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/12/eu-watchdog-approves-new-license-for-controversial-weedkiller

EU re-licences glyphosate for five years https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/glyphosate-licence-renewed-for-five-years-by-eu-member-states-42542


Miscalculation January 10, 2018

When I was younger one of the main reasons that I wanted my own business was that I hated being told what to do.

Worse still was being told what to do by people less able than myself.

It appears that I may have misjudged the requirements of my managerial role as all I seem to get nowadays is…being told what to do.

I get told what I need to do by the marketing boys.  Then get told by the digital team what I need to spend.  Then I get told by the reception team what has been requested by clients.  Then I get told what orders we have to do by the survey teams.  Then I get told what is possible to do by the construction team.  Then I get told what is practical by the admin team.  Then I get told what it is safe to do by the health and safety team.  Then I get told what I can afford to do by the accounts team.

I sit and listen….

I never get to fire anybody anymore as this is considered bad form – so I sit and listen to people tell me why my company is not good enough or doesn’t pay enough.  Then I have to give them time and encourage them to give me 100%.  I am not allowed to give any comments back to these people as it may infringe their human rights.

So, I sit and listen….

Clients ring me and tell me what must be done by certain deadlines and within certain budgets.  They moan about the unfair way alien species cause them problems and how they wish they didn’t have to do anything about these issues.  They never allow for budgets to deal with these problem plants…. because they were trying to hit unrealistic budgets which showed that their project was profitable – and therefore require that I work for reduced margins.

So, I sit and listen….

I then go to visit my mother on my way home – who informs me that I am a bad son because I don’t go and visit her enough.  She then tells me how wonderful my brother is and what a wonderful world it would be if she had two just like him.

I sit and listen.

I then go home to my wife who has had a bad day.

I sit and listen.

Unfortunately, my dog died a few years ago – she used to listen to me.

I neeed a dog.

Mike C

Offensive blog – don’t read. January 3, 2018

If you’re easily offended don’t read this. In fact, if you’re easily offended I would give this entire blog page a miss completely.

I know I’m on dodgy ground with this one because it’s about gender – so I’m bound to offend somebody.

What’s going on with the younger generation of men? They seem very confused to me. They’ve lost their direction and seem to have lost the ability to do …anything.

Younger women on the other hand seem like they’ve got it all under control. From a staff point of view, give me a young woman any day of the week – motivated, hardworking, punctual, well presented and focused.

Men just seem like they’re unsure about anything. They aren’t supposed to be macho, yet they also aren’t supposed to be toooo soft. They are supposed to be in touch with their feminine side …yet still be able to protect their lady if trouble happens. They are supposed to be understanding of their lady’s requirement for being 100% a one-woman man and yet still be attractive and desirable to their lady’s friends.

Most young men that I come across don’t seem to be able to fight their way out of a paper bag let alone look after their partner in a street brawl after pub closing. They know how to moisturise but not how to disable a drunken six-foot k**b head with a single punch.

Beards are a clue. If the bloke in question has a beard then shaves it off, then grows it again – then shaves it off again – this is a pointer that he has no clue as to how he wants to look.

Beards that are excessively trimmed and manicured – another clue – too much staring in the mirror required ….never a good sign in a bloke.

Should they dress up and wear a tie for work? Should they be casual …? Most blokes just can’t get this right so they go for a half assed approach – throw a bit of everything in and hope it ‘gels’….

What happens when this type of bloke then gets married and has a baby?

Aaaaaaarrrggghhh – they have to be there every step of the way – every scan, every twinge, every baby shower they’re there being fully supportive. During the lead up to the birth they read every book and attend every class – till the happy moment arrives and they can be there during the entire procedure – cutting the umbilical cord and making a light snack out of the placenta on the mobile gas-powered barbecue that they brought in with them – served with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

After the birth they take ‘paternity leave’ and then assume the role of the mother growing breasts and feeding baby from their forever leaking mammary glands.

This is the critical moment when the ‘bond’ between father and child is most at risk – so they take every moment they can to spend time with baby and ensure that they get the most out of this new relationship.

All I’m saying here, is that I actually didn’t introduce myself to my children till they were six.

I thought a ‘night feed’ was when I sneaked downstairs for some cheese and a glass of milk in the middle of the night.

Changing the baby – I thought was some sort of club where you could swap the crying whiny one for one that could put up shelves or clean.

The school run – I thought was some sponsored event to be avoided at all costs.

Bonding – was something you did at the post office by buying tickets for Ernie and hoping you would win a million quid.

It could be that I was wrong.

It could be that the ‘new man’ has got it all sussed…

All I’m saying is that there are a lot of confused men out there who just aren’t sure what they should be doing.

In my day it was a lot easier – you just worked and worked some more – and left everything else to your partner.

Anybody out there I haven’t offended?

Mike C.