Month: June 2019

Pourquoi Libra est critiquée avant même son lancement ?

Au consommateur de décider si c’est un bon système ou pas ?

Du côté des consommateurs, Consumer Choice Center, équivalent de Que-Choisir à travers le monde, regrette que les législateurs réclament la suspension du projet : « Contrôler la réglementation sur Internet et les sociétés financières est important, mais la mentalité de“légiférer d’abord, d’innover plus tard”, qui est apparue en réponse à Libra, devrait mettre tous les internautes en pause. Si chaque nouvelle innovation Internet est désormais soumise à l’approbation du Congrès, ce serait un dangereux précédent pour l’avenir du choix du consommateur en ligne », a déclaré Yaël Ossowski, dirigeant de cette association de défense du consommateur. Les consommateurs ont le droit de choisir s’ils souhaitent utiliser des crypto-monnaies ou des réseaux sociaux, et sont conscients des risques et des avantages considérables qui en découlent. Les utilisateurs recherchent une alternative et s’intéressent aux nouveaux outils numériques en ligne. C’est pourquoi, il y a un tel intérêt. »

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A Recipe for A Better World; Nine Parts Innovation, One Part Regulation

“To protect the environment, our health, and promote the social good we have to live more austere lives.”

How often have we heard something along these lines? The problem is, it’s not a very effective approach. 

Tackling the world’s most intractable problems, preserving freedoms and making life better for everyone requires something often overlooked by many who are sincerely interested in making the world better. If advocates for austere living promote bleeding heart liberalism, I believe we should stand for bleeding heart market advocacy.

For a better world, we need more innovation.  

True, the world would be better off if there were more generosity and kindness. But technological innovation, usually backed by private investment, is the most important ingredient for a healthier and yes—more enjoyable—planet.

Meatless Choice

I enjoy eating meat. Although I am sympathetic to concerns about the impacts from eating meat, some more valid than others, I’m not willing to become a vegetarian. Some have gone so far as to propose a sin tax on meat to fight climate change. Whether it is animal welfare, the environment, or my own health, a reduction in my consumption of meat would only please other people. And they are out of luck. At least until now.

Patrick Brown, a biochemistry professor at Stanford saw industrial animal agriculture as the top environmental threat. “I started doing the typical misguided academic approach to the problem,” he said in a Pacific Standard Interview  in 2016. The magazine reported that “he organized an A-list 2010 National Research Council workshop in Washington called “The Role of Animal Agriculture in a Sustainable 21st Century Global Food System,’ which caused not a ripple. Not long after, he determined that the only real way to impact meat production would be to beat it in the free market.”  

Brown, now sounding like a mission-driven innovator, rather than a government funded activist, said “All you have to do is make a product that the current consumers … prefer to what they’re getting now. ” He added that “It’s easier to change people’s behavior than to change their minds.”

With seed funding from Bill Gates, Google, and other innovation-oriented investors, Impossible Foods has deployed scientists to develop plant-based meat alternatives meant to appeal not to vegetarians, but to meat-lovers like me. Unlike vege-burgers, which appeal primary to vegetarians, the goal of this new class of alternatives to burgers are meant to appeal to meat eaters. That’s why they‘ve been rolling it out it as a “plant-based meat” in fast food restaurants known for beef burgers.

The innovation has been the target of displeasure from cattle-ranchers, opposition from environmental activists, and, this is hard to believe, outrage from PETA. Leftist food elitists are also furious. Adrionna Fike of the Mandela Grocery Cooperative criticized the company for trying to switch burger lovers at Burger King because “They exploit so many workers  Think about all the migrant workers.” 

Yet the Impossible Burger and other disruptors like Beyond Meat are taking root in the U.S. market. The Food and Drug Administration recently backed the safety of Impossible Foods’ plant-sourced Leghemoglobin. The protein contains heme, also present in real meat, and is partly responsible for the taste, texture and appearance of bloody-good meat.

The burger even cleared another major regulatory hurdle in May, when it was certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.  

Consumers clearly have an appetite for meaty tasting alternatives to livestock products; The company is facing supply shortages as it ramps up production of Version 2.0, sold at fast food outlets including Burger King, even before it becomes available in the meat department at supermarkets later this year. Food behemoth Nestle just joined the feeding frenzy, announcingthe launch of their own plant-based burger in the fall.

While I may not become a vegetarian, the Impossible Burger and its technological offspring increase the likelihood that I’ll reduce my meat consumption, should I so choose. That’s good news for those who think the world will be better off if I ate less meat. This outcome won’t restrict my freedom, rather it gives me – and many like me – more choices. It is important to note that it came about as the result of private-sector innovation, timely government clearance, and no costly, finger-wagging “public education” campaigns.  

Tobacco Harm Reduction

Cigarette smoking remains a top killer around the world. Even in countries with the strictest anti-smoking taxes and regulations, smoking is still a scourge. It turns out that regulations and taxes do little to help addicted smokers quit, yet many in the tobacco control community continue to oppose tobacco harm reducing technologies, instead calling for only technology-killing regulation, as if that were the only tool in their toolbox. 

In fact, innovative products like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco can—and do—help smokers quit smoking, even though they are not without risk. As the U.S. FDA explains it, “nicotine – while highly addictive – is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.”

Yet innovative companies like Juul, who create alternatives to cigarettes, are seen by many in public health as public enemy number one. But it really shouldn’t be so complicated or divisive. 

E-cigarettes are not entirely safe and they should not be used by kids. The FDA and local governments should use the regulatory and enforcement power and budgets they already have to prevent kids from obtaining e-cigarettes.  Schools and parents should use their moral authority to prevent kids from using them. And regulators should foster an environment which encourages innovation to develop a range of enjoyable and less harmful alternatives for adults who wish to use nicotine.

To its credit, the FDA recently authorized the sale of IQOS, a heated tobacco product, finding that the product is “appropriate for the protection of the public health because, among several key considerations, the products produce fewer or lower levels of some toxins than combustible cigarettes.”

Even a leading skeptic of the benefits of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation recently found it necessary to make a major course correction. In a caveat-rich policy statement, the American Cancer Society acknowledged that “switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.” ACS’s Clinical Recommendations state that the organization supports “any smoker who is considering quitting, no matter what approach they use.”  

ACS now recommends “that clinicians support all attempts to quit the use of combustible tobacco and work with smokers to eventually stop using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.” Finally, and rather reasonably, the ACS advises that “these individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing smoking combustible products.”  Unfortunately, the science hasn’t gotten down to ACS’s lobbyists, who continue to call for a ban on the e-cigarette flavors adult smokers use to quit.

In the UK, government health officials estimate that e-cigarettes could already be helping at least 20,000 smokers quit annually, and that’s a conservative estimate, they say. 

Professor John Newton, director for health improvement at Public Health England said the government’s review “reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95 percent less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders.” To those who continue to sow doubt about the difference in risk between cigarettes and e-cigarettes, Professor Newton noted that “it would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.” 

Who are these modern day merchants of doubt?

Big pharma, which makes FDA approved (but largely ineffective) nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation drugs has a lot to lose. Companies such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are major backers of highly-regarded but old-school tobacco control groups including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, which regularly lobby to treat e-cigarettes just like cigarettes. 

Tobacco companies who don’t successfully innovate, also have a lot to lose if the cigarette goes the way of the rotary phone. No wonder some back costly regulatory schemes which serve as a barrier to entry to pesky competitors. 

Innovation-Oriented Problem Solving

Disruptive innovation is not only technologically difficult, but as Impossible Foods is learning, bringing game-changing products to market requires overcoming obstacles from entrenched interests. Those interests frequently masquerade as being in the public interest, but are often anything but.  

I recommend we shift our perspective. If we want to solve problems while protecting our enviable lifestyle we should embrace the idea that imaginative solutions, rather than reliance on ever-more restrictive regulations, are our best hope. Appropriately narrow regulation protects safety while also fostering innovation. 

Sometimes well-intentioned, restrictive government interventions are backward-looking problem-solving tools. Too often, they fail to deliver on the promises made to justify their costs, both in terms of unintended consequences and their cost to individual freedoms. Technological advances, however, are solution-oriented and can make real strides against problems that seem otherwise impossible to overcome. And in today’s polarized environment, that’s no nothing-burger. 

* * * 

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center and a member of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project FDA Working Group.

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San Francisco vape ban embraces harm over science

OPINION by YAËL OSSOWSKI

In an attempt to curb youth vaping, the Board of Supervisors of the city of San Francisco voted yesterday to ban all sales of vaping devices and e-cigarettes. The ban was passed unanimously and will apply to the sales and distribution of e-cigarettes once it has final approval.

The ban was counterproductive and took the approach of endorsing fear over science. The fact remains that San Francisco consumers can still buy tobacco in all forms, but they won’t be allowed to purchase vaping devices and e-cigarettes that are significantly less harmful.

This is increasing potential harm by only making tobacco legal and pushing committed former smokers and current vapors to travel outside the city to buy their vape products, or even worse, create a black market with no regulation and no oversight.

For the truck driver, waitress, or customer service employee who is addicted to nicotine and has found an alternative to smoking cigarettes in vaping products, they will now be denied that choice by the elected San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The science is clear: vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking and gives adults a fighting chance to quit tobacco. Public policy should be aimed at achieving the goal of less smokers, not more.

The focus on youth access to vaping products is a question of enforcement: for that, there needs to be focus on retailers who are selling to minors illegally, not wholemeal bans that will take away the choices of law-abiding adults.

Youth vaping is a concern, but in the pursuit of reducing its likelihood, San Francisco politicians are effectively denying alternative technologies to adult smokers who want to quit. That’s a dark stain on the Golden City.

YAËL OSSOWSKI  is the Deputy Director for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC). The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe, closely monitors regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and informs and activates consumers to fight for consumer choice.

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Consumer body challenges US lawmakers over Facebook crypto

A consumer advocacy group has challenged US lawmakers over their threats on Facebook’s new crypto-currency, Libra.

This, after Facebook was summoned to appear before the US Senate Banking Committee over its plans to launch a crypto-currency next year.

On Tuesday, the social media doyen shared plans for Calibra, a newly formed Facebook subsidiary, whose goal is to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network.

Just hours after Facebook announced its new Libra crypto-currency project, US federal lawmakers issued warnings to the social media platform, requesting the project be put on ice until lawmakers have had a chance to review it.

In response, consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Centre’s deputy director Yaël Ossowski says the lawmakers’ threats are harmful to consumer choice, and will ultimately backfire.

“Overseeing regulation on Internet and financial firms is important, but the ‘regulate first, innovate later’ mentality that came in response to Libra should give every Internet user pause. If every new Internet innovation is now subject to kneejerk congressional approval, that sets a dangerous precedent for the future of consumer choice online,” says Ossowski.

“Consumers have the right to choose if they want to use crypto-currencies or social networks, and are aware of the great risks and benefits that go along with that. People want an alternative and they’re interested in new digital tools online. That’s why there is so much interest.”

He notes allowing political figures to freeze future innovations and projects because of temporary partisan politics will keep millions of consumers from being able to enjoy regular goods and services they enjoy online, not to mention being able to connect with thousands of their friends and family online.

“And it won’t stop here. If these threats continue, Bitcoin and dozens of other crypto-currencies, as well as other social media platforms that millions of users have adopted, will also face well-intended but flawed regulation.

“We must have smart regulation that encourages competition, protects privacy and ensures consumer choice. Prior restraint of innovation would be the opposite of that,” Ossowski concludes.

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Political opposition to Facebook’s Libra harms consumer choice and will backfire, warns consumer body

Just hours after Facebook announced its new Libra cryptocurrency project, European politicians issued stark warnings calling for tighter regulation of the platform. Some of the most vocal opponents are French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Markus Ferber, a German member of the European Parliament.

In response, Fred Roeder, Managing Director at the Consumer Choice Center, said that “these political threats were harmful to consumer choice, and would ultimately backfire”.

“Overseeing regulation on Internet and financial firms is important, but the ’regulate first, innovate later’ mentality that came in response to Libra should give every Internet user a reason to be concerned. If every new Internet innovation now needs to be approved by lawmakers, that sets a dangerous precedent for the future of consumer choice online,” said Roeder.

Roeder believes that consumers have the right to choose if they want to use cryptocurrencies, or social networks and are aware of the great risks and benefits that go along with that. People want alternatives, especially with new digital tools, which is why there is so much interest from consumers.

“Allowing political figures to freeze future innovations and projects because of temporary partisan politics will keep European consumers from being able to enjoy the goods and services they enjoy online, not to mention being able to connect with thousands of their friends and family online,” he says.

“And it won’t stop here,” he warns. “If these threats continue, Bitcoin and dozens of other cryptocurrencies, as well as other social media platforms that millions of users have adopted, will also face well-intended but flawed regulation.We must have smart regulation that encourages competition, protects privacy, and ensures consumer choice. Prior restraint of innovation would be the opposite of that,” said Roeder.

But not everyone agrees that state pressure to regulate Facebook’s foray into finance is an oppressive one. John Biondi, VP of Experience Design at Nerdery, warns: “It’s hard to imaging a bigger, worse idea than Facebook launching a cryptocurrency. With 2.7 billion users, more than a third of the world’s population, Facebook forms the biggest community in history. Unfortunately, it’s created that community pretty much entirely by selling people’s data without permission. That’s not the organisation I want as the new central bank.”

He continues: “Even with its questionable data practices in the spotlight over the last several years, we can’t assume all Facebook users are aware of the privacy issues. An example of this is single sign-on through Facebook – and others online platforms like Twitter, Google, etc. Users choose to sign in to other platforms using their Facebook information because it’s fast and easy but there are tradeoffs and consequences for using what seems like a benign tool. Facebook doesn’t want to make your life easier, they want access to your data and they know you’re impatient in that moment. The same is true for Libra. The ability to quickly pay for something is enticing, but Facebook is a business that has its own interests and shareholders at heart.”

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I Paesi in via di sviluppo pagano il nostro ambientalismo

L’ambientalismo anti-scientifico e pauperistico rischia di danneggiare i Paesi in via di sviluppo

Per quelli di noi che possono permettersi di avere un termostato intelligente, che regola la temperatura in base alla temperatura esterna, è una grande comodità. Ma ha un costo. La protezione e lo sviluppo ambientale sono, indubbiamente, una causa giusta e nobile che però ha un costo.

Dopotutto, attraverso i cambiamenti negli atteggiamenti dei consumatori, le più recenti innovazioni sono diventate più sicure, più sostenibili e in generale più “verdi”. È quello che spinge i supermercati a scambiare i loro sacchetti di plastica per quelli di carta, e per nuovi prodotti come cannucce di metallo e bottiglie di bevande per diventare vitali.

Purtroppo, questo meraviglioso sentimento condiviso da un numero crescente di consumatori non si traduce altrettanto bene nel mondo della politica. La bellezza dell’innovazione orientata al consumatore è che si tratta di un processo naturale: i consumatori acquistano verde sia perché lo vogliono e perché possono permetterselo. Mettere lo stesso principio in politica spesso trascura questo passaggio cruciale.

L’atteggiamento della politica rischia di scaricare gli effetti negativi soprattutto sui Paesi in via di sviluppo. I paesi avanzati con buone intenzioni ignorano i bisogni e le capacità delle nazioni più povere nel nome dell’ambientalismo.

Prendiamo, ad esempio, un imminente conferenza in Kenya, tenuta congiuntamente dall’Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l’alimentazione e l’agricoltura (FAO) e dal Centro mondiale di conservazione degli alimenti. La “Prima conferenza internazionale sull’agroecologia che trasforma l’agricoltura e i sistemi alimentari in Africa” ​​mira ad attuare le politiche dell ‘”Agroecologia” in tutto il continente.

L’agroecologia propagandata dalla conferenza si riferisce a uno stile di agricoltura più “organico”, uno che è libero (o, almeno, meno dipendente) dai fertilizzanti sintetici e dai pesticidi. Di per sé, questa può sembrare una missione piuttosto nobile; se tali sostanze sono dannose per l’ambiente, perché non dovremmo voler ridurre il loro utilizzo?

Bene, in nazioni sviluppate come la nostra, questa sarebbe la reazione giusta. Il nostro settore agricolo, così come la nostra capacità di importare da altre nazioni, ci consente il lusso di chiedere riduzioni di tali pratiche agricole senza troppa preoccupazione per gli effetti sulla nostra offerta di cibo. Dopo tutto, se optare per l’opzione “organica” rappresenta qualche quid in più ogni settimana, qual è il problema?

In molte parti dell’Africa, dove questa conferenza si tiene, questo lusso purtroppo non esiste. Non dovrebbe sorprendere che i metodi di agricoltura agroecologica siano, in genere, molto meno efficienti rispetto alla moderna alternativa meccanizzata (una conclusione raggiunta in uno studio condotto da sostenitori agrocologici). In un continente che è stato a lungo afflitto da una scarsa crescita economica e, molto più gravemente, gravi carestie e scarsità di cibo, il rischio di passare a metodi meno produttivi in ​​nome dell’ambiente sarebbe cieco alle necessità di un’economia in via di sviluppo .

Visto semplicemente, si potrebbe facilmente etichettare questa visione del mondo e la prescrizione come arrogante. Se le persone nei paesi sviluppati (o altrove per quella materia) desiderano stabilire una fattoria biologica e agroecologica per promuovere un sistema più rispettoso dell’ambiente, allora hanno più potere per loro. Ma semplicemente non possiamo aspettarci che questo si applichi ai paesi in via di sviluppo come quelli in Africa.

La realizzazione di pratiche e tecnologie sostenibili e rispettose dell’ambiente nei paesi in via di sviluppo dovrebbe essere raggiunta attraverso maggiori investimenti e commercio, stimolando la crescita economica e lo sviluppo. A seguito della Brexit, il Regno Unito si troverà in una posizione ideale per farlo senza le restrizioni della politica agricola comune dell’UE, che ha reso ancora più difficile il commercio con gli agricoltori dei paesi in via di sviluppo.

I cuori degli ambientalisti sono certamente nel posto giusto, ma suggerimenti come quelli della prossima conferenza di agroecologia minacciano di negare alle economie in via di sviluppo le possibilità di crescita e sviluppo di cui hanno disperatamente bisogno. Investiamo in questi paesi e lasciamo che le innovazioni si scatenino mentre le loro economie migliorano.

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Frivolous Lawsuits Against Scientific Innovation Are Just Another Form Of Socialism

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products, yet they’re becoming startlingly common.

Only 51 percent of Americans think socialism would be a bad thing for the country, according to a Gallup poll released in May. Although the 2020 election will be a big test for whether socialism gains a foothold, freedom-lovers should be worried more broadly than at the polls.

The slide towards socialism is taking root not only at the ballot box, but also from the jury box. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are having wild success in their campaign to redistribute wealth from innovative companies to sympathetic clients—all while taking a healthy cut for themselves, of course.

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products. Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Tilburg University recently aggregated data from more than 40,000 lawsuits filed between 1996 and 2011 and found that “frivolous lawsuits tended to focus on highly innovative businesses,” costing the average defendants $1.1 million each year. They found that the cases were, in effect, a disproportionate tax on innovation.

Consider the recent $2 billion jury verdict against Bayer AG (which acquired Monsanto) for allegations that its Roundup herbicide, made with glyphosate, caused cancer in plaintiffs. This was the third verdict for plaintiffs in California in the last year, with more than 13,400 cases pending nationwide.

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under Democrat and Republican administrations alike, has thoroughly and repeatedly evaluated glyphosate and found that it is not a carcinogen and it poses, “no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate.” The risk-averse European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) similarly does not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. Australian and Canadian regulators reached the same conclusion.

But plaintiffs’ lawyers are making bank on a controversial report issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an affiliate of the scandal-ridden World Health Organization. In all but one of its 900 evaluations, IARC’s flawed methodology led it to identify a chemical (Caprolactam), as “not” carcinogenic to humans.

Cherrypicking Data to Make Bank with Gullible Juries

IARC’s conclusion that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans was particularly tainted. Christopher Portier, a consultant for lawyers suing on behalf of “victims” of glyphosate, and a part-time employee of Environmental Defense Fund, was behind the initiation IARC’s evaluation glyphosate. He then served as an “invited specialist” for IARC, despite having no background in chemical research. Not surprisingly, IARC relied on cherrypicked low-value studies and excluded relevant safety data.

That report then became the centerpiece of an anti-glyphosate campaign Portier led to undermine the safety findings of every major government evaluation of the herbicide. The outlier report and the political campaign to leverage it prompted the executive director of EFSA, Bernhard Url, to offer dramatic testimony before the European Parliament’s environment committee, lambasting IARC’s politicized work and how far it strayed from EFSA’s transparent peer-reviewed scientific work.

Url pointed out that the activism and the turmoil it caused by undermining legitimate studies suggested we have entered the “Facebook age of science,” where you post a report you like “and you count how many people like it. For us this is no way forward.” In this environment, it’s easy to see how a group of jurors, asked to evaluate “conflicting studies,” could side with sympathetic plaintiffs over a big chemical company.

I could imagine jurors in the $2 billion verdict thinking, “I don’t really know whether this product caused Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but a big verdict in their favor will help them more than it’ll hurt Bayer.” Bayer’s share price fell 6 percent on news of the verdict, reflecting investor concern about liability in the thousands of other cases.

False Lawsuits Are Attacks on Discovery

Put aside the cost to a typical investor’s retirement account and consider the costs to society in a world where innovative scientists have to answer the following questions from potential investors: Let’s say your product actually does the wonderful things you are developing it to do. Let’s also say that regulators around the world repeatedly vouch for the safety of its proper use.

But what’s to stop plaintiffs from ginning up enough high-dose animal studies to get IARC to study it, leading to an almost certain cancer warning? And what’s to stop those lawyers from using that report to canvas for cancer patients who used the product? Won’t this be another glyphosate?

There are no good answers to these questions. And that’s why these types of cases represent a serious attack on progress.

We are all beneficiaries of technology. Whether it’s lower-cost food and reduced soil erosion because of glyphosate, or critical components of computers, cell phones, and aircraft, innovation makes life better for everyone. That’s why they are so widely used.

Sadly, if not ironically, it’s also why enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking to capitalize on sympathy towards socialism, both abroad at IARC, and at home in the jury pool. For them, it’s a solid investment.

Don’t look to Congress to fix the problem anytime soon. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, passed in 2016, made it clear that the legislation would not preempt toxic tort litigation.

The best we can hope for is a more scientifically literate populace who, as jurors, are less likely to be duped by those who game the system. We should also be cautious about what we share on social media. As Smokey Bear said, “Only YOU can stop forest fires.” And only YOU can tamp down the “Facebook age of science.” At a time when nearly half of Americans don’t seem to understand the threat of creeping socialism, it’s time for those of us who do to be on guard on all fronts.

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. He is also a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and a policy advisor to the Heartland Institute.

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Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@YaelOss
[email protected]

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

Charlotte, NC – Yesterday it was reported that North Carolina Republicans have introduced a provision that would allow bars, clubs, and restaurants to stay open until 4 AM during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski responded to the news stating that extending the hours that facilities can serve alcohol shouldn’t just be a temporary measure for big city political conventions, but should instead be allowed statewide from here on out.

“What message are we sending about consumer choice if we only pass modern alcohol policies when a party comes to town,” asked Ossowski.

“Giving business owners the permanent option of staying open later to serve customers would provide the exact same economic benefits state legislators are touting about temporarily giving business owners that option in August 2020 during the RNC.

“Extending the time for ‘Last Call’ would be up to the individual businesses, and would be a huge boon for modernization of our state’s alcohol policy. Not only would clubs, bars, and restaurants have more flexibility, but consumers would also have a bigger range of options to choose from, and that could finally provide an incentive to lawmakers to update our state’s antiquated alcohol laws.

“Bringing North Carolina into the 21st Century when it comes to alcohol policy should be a priority for state legislators, and that is something that should be embraced for all North Carolina residents, not just when the RNC comes to Charlotte,” said Ossowski.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Relatório indica que regulamentação da TV paga prejudica consumidor brasileiro

Para o Centro de Escolha do Consumidor (CESCO), ligado ao Students For Liberty Brazil, a legislação brasileira ameaça o futuro digital do país

O Centro de Escolha do Consumidor (CESCO), ligado ao Students For Liberty Brasil, divulgou esta semana um estudo acerca das barreiras que o Brasil enfrenta para participar de um Mercado Único Digital. A nota de política discute como a regulamentação da TV paga pode ser uma grande barreira no futuro digital do país.

Os autores Andrea Giuricin, Fred Roeder e André Freo apontam que as regulamentações desatualizadas privam os consumidores brasileiros da liberdade de escolher serviços e conteúdo, impedindo o Brasil de se tornar competitivo nos mercados digitais globais. De acordo com o documento, a legislação brasileira bloqueia a criação de um mercado digital único, onde operadores poderiam integrar conteúdo e canais para fornecer serviços de mídia melhores e mais abrangentes.

Os autores advogam que a integração entre a produção de conteúdo e sua distribuição, impedida pela legislação atual, é uma grande oportunidade para o país e pode ser observada em outros mercados desenvolvidos. “A capacidade de atender melhor às necessidades dos clientes com serviços mais personalizados oferece benefícios aos consumidores, como tem sido visto nos EUA e na Europa”, eles argumentam.

Elesambém salientam a necessidade de um novo marco regulatório, reconhecendo que é impossível prever como os serviços digitais e de mídia serão processados no futuro. “A possibilidade de ter menores custos devidos a escala do serviço, devido a um mercado de mais de 200 milhões de consumidores, apresenta uma enorme oportunidade para atração de investimentos para o Brasil”, defende o CESCO. O grupo sustenta que isso geraria mais emprego e mais serviços de qualidade para os consumidores. O relatório pode ser consultado aqui.

UN exacerbates global hunger

UN’s insistence on organic food prolongs the needless starvation of millions on the globe’s poorest continent, says Bill Wirtz. 

This month the World Food Preservation Center in partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, will hold the first “International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa”, in Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of this conference is to promote organic and non-GMO farming as part of a complete “socio-economic transformation” of Africa. A misguided and unscientific overhaul, it would devastate the parts of developing Africa that need innovation the most.

The fascination for increased organic farming isn’t new. In the UK, organic production makes up almost ten per cent of total farming, with Environment secretary Michael Gove being pushed continuously to do more for organic farming on a public policy level. The French government is increasing subsidies to organic farms in an effort to reach 15 per cent organic production by 2022.Germany and Luxembourg have set goals of 20 per cent organic production by 2025 and 2030 respectively.

Even the international development community has bought into the concept – but they’ve taken it to a whole new level. Led by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), development programs and assistance are increasingly being predicated on adoption of “agroecology,” which takes organic farming as its starting point and adds on a series of social and economic theories that seek to achieve the “total transformation” of agricultural production, and even society as a whole.

According to its original definition, agroecology is simply the study of ecological practices applied to agriculture. What started out as science, however, has morphed into a political doctrine that not only rules out modern technologies such as genetic engineering, advanced pesticides and synthetic fertilizer, but explicitly extols the benefits of “peasant” and “indigenous” farming and in many cases discourages mechanization as a way of freeing the world’s poor from backbreaking agricultural labor. Add on to a hostility to international trade and intellectual property protections for innovators (“seed patents,” which are standard in all advanced crops, not just GMOs, are a frequent cause of complaint) and you can see why agroecology’s promoters so often talk about it as “transformative.”

We should remember, however, that not all “transformations” are good. They can just as easily be bad, even catastrophic. A recent study by pro-agroecology activists found that applications of their principles to Europe would decrease agricultural productivity by 35% on average, which they considered a positive, as in their view Europeans eat too much anyway. It’s hard to see how a 35% drop in productivity among the world’s rural poor – a large percentage of the 800 million people who currently suffer from malnutrition – would be anything other than a calamity.  

As someone from a family that were peasants from their existence until the end of the last world war, I can only stand in awe at the idea of ridding agriculture of mechanisation. My ancestors worked 60-hour weeks of hard manual labour, and it was modern agriculture that was able to make them more productive and allow them free time: something they were never able to enjoy before.

There is nothing wrong with practicing “peasant farming” on a purely voluntary basis, within a community of people who enjoy being one with nature (and/or inflicting terrible back pain on themselves). In fact, in a Western world of mechanised farming, it is even sustainable to have some farms operate in such a fashion (even if it requires increased subsidies), for the purpose of pleasing nostalgic customers. However, what is truly disturbing is when agroecology activists and international institutions supposedly dedicated to alleviating poverty are willing to distort the scientific reality and impose their ideology on those who can least afford it.

The Nairobi conference

The conference held in Kenya is a combination of two events that were initially set to be organised at the same time. “The Eastern Africa Conference on Scaling up Agroecology and Ecological Organic Trade” and the “1st All Africa Congress on Synthetic Pesticides, Environment, and Human Health“. Scrolling through the list of organisers and participants, it’s most notable that agencies, institutions, and organisations that don’t endorse agroecology, or have a scientific view on herbicides and GMOs contrary to the pushed narrative, won’t be present. Seemingly, some people were not supposed to ruin the party.

And a party it will be. That is, at least, if you’re of the belief that the end justifies the means when spreading misinformation about pesticides and GMOs.

One of the speakers at the conference is Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French biologist and anti-GMO activist. He is famous for his 2012 study claiming to demonstrate that that rats fed with genetically modified corn reported an increase in tumours. What followed was coined the “Séralini affair”, with various regulatory authorities and scientists dismissing the study for deep-rooted methodological flaws. The study was later retracted, and four recent government-funded studies (three by the EU and one by France) have now thoroughly refuted the Seralini thesis. 

Other speakers speakers include fringe scientists Don Huber and Judy Carmen, both of whom have made similar – and similarly debunked – claims about GMOs, and Tyrone Hayes, who is famous for his claim, now championed by conspiracy monger Alex Jones, that the herbicide atrazine, in his words “turns frogs gay”. Such an invite would be discrediting for any major organisation, but seemingly the FAO doesn’t seem to care.

And still, even though the conference disreputes itself merely by its choice of speakers, agroecology is making leaps forward (pun intended). Through the FAO, these policies are increasingly being required by international governmental organisations and NGOs as a condition of receiving financial aid.

Now that it is expanding to Africa, which is in desperate need of mechanisation and of efficient farming methods, it needs to be called out for what it is: anti-science activism, based on environmentalist fantasies. Agroecology as a political doctrine, has no place in science-based policy discourse, and its promotion – given the scientific knowledge we have to today – is immoral. It needs to be stopped.

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