fbpx

Month: March 2020

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity for legal reform

Public life is now at a standstill in the United States.

Millions are social distancing and staying at home to avoid further community spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. 

It’s important to remain positive, but times are tough. Nearly 18 percent of American households are facing reduced hours or layoffs at work, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Plugging into the 24-hour news cycle and its doomsday predictions doesn’t give many good vibes either.

That said, some government institutions remain on the clock. Legislatures in New Jersey, Wisconsin and dozens of other states still have open sessions to piece together legislation to alleviate their constituents; police officers and mail carriers are still on the job; and hospitals and clinics are working overtime to heal the sick. All these institutions have had to pivot to the situation at hand and focus on how to react to the effect of the pandemic.

Police officers in cities such as Philadelphia and Lansing, Mich., have been instructed to not pursue low-level nonviolent crime to concentrate resources on the coronavirus. District and federal courts have been shuttered across the nation to do the same, leaving criminal, civil and immigration cases hanging in the balance.

With a huge pause button pressed, what will be the effect on our legal system?

While judges and lawyers have been sent home, there remain thousands of major lawsuits on the docket that could shape much of our lives once all this ends. And that’s important to remember.

Perhaps during this time, we can evaluate what we’d like our nation’s courts to prioritize once they return to normal.

That’s especially important because for every bogus lawsuit about Amazon “price gouging” toilet paper or hand sanitizer companies overstating their claims for killing germs, there are other major trials featuring outright hysteria and moral panic that deny scientific evidence and could lead to sweeping negative changes.

Currently, there are dozens of lawsuits related to the tenuous connection between nicotine pod vaping devices sold by companies such as Juul, and the outbreak of lung illnesses that took place last year. The CDC came out in December and clarified the injuries were caused by vitamin E acetate found in illicit cartridges, but tort lawyers have not been dissuaded. They hope juries will buy emotional arguments over the science.

The same can be said for cases considering whether Johnson & Johnson baby powder contained talc products laced with asbestos, a carcinogen. 

One trial in New Jersey is reviewing whether one testimony claiming such will be considered credible scientific evidence, known as the Daubert standard. Multiple scientific studies have yet to prove a link between talc in modern baby powder and any cancer, but previous cases have awarded as much as $4.7 billion to plaintiffs and their attorneys. 

Will the judge listen to existing scientific evidence or hired court “experts” who stand to gain from huge payouts?

These are the types of perverse incentives that exist in today’s legal system. 

Talk of reforming both criminal justice and tort law have been top of mind for many legal researchers and policy advocates for the past few years, and for good reason. 

Much like the anti-scientific tort cases outlined above, too many people have had their lives ruined by nonviolent offenses that have stunted their careers and limited their successes. This legal abuse swarms our legal system and leaves legitimately injured consumers and citizens locked out of the courts. 

Not everything deserves to rise to the level of our courts and our legal instruments if there isn’t legitimate harm to our people and communities. It’s the same principle as police officers in Philadelphia and Lansing being instructed to avoid low-level arrests of nonviolent offenders.

When life picks up again, and we deconstruct how our institutions fared in a time of crisis, we will need to ensure important reforms are implemented.

We need tools and reforms to avoid abuse of our nation’s courts by overzealous attorneys and prosecutors alike. That’s a noble goal we can all agree on.

Originally published here.


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

BC should allow online recreational cannabis sales to protect consumers and staff

British Columbians should be allowed the same socially distant transaction options as other provinces

Despite reports of “click-and-collect” services coming to B.C. retail, a recent provincial policy directive still requires customers to go in-store to pay for and pick up their weed.

This new directive falls short of online sales and delivery options available in provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Providing these options would allow B.C. residents, who currently face the country’s highest number of COVID-19 infections, to reduce non-essential physical transactions that have the potential to spread the disease.

Tuesday afternoon’s update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry showed B.C. pulling ahead of Ontario for the first time with a total of 617 confirmed cases, compared to Ontario’s 572. For reference, the population of Ontario is nearly three times that of B.C.

International advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center, who recently called for all provinces to legalize same-day delivery, said such policies would have the added benefit of reducing illicit sales.

Currently, B.C.’s provincial wholesaler holds a monopoly on online recreational cannabis sales. “BC Cannabis Stores: the only place to shop non-medical cannabis online in BC,” reads a slogan on the homepage of its website.

Late Friday, British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) authorized private cannabis retailers to offer non-medical cannabis product reservations online or by phone.

However, the guidance says that reserved products must be paid for and picked up in store.

The move comes after multiple calls from B.C. retailers for the province to allow for cannabis delivery and “click-and-collect” services that are offered in other Canadian provinces.

“It’s hard for us when we don’t have an option,” Muse Cannabis manager Frida Hallgren told Mugglehead in an interview last week. “At times like this it would have been very useful to have a delivery system.”

Unclear how product reservations support social distancing

The term click-and-collect is used to describe retail services where customers buy a product online and then come to collect it, either in-store or at the curbside.

The demand for brick-and-mortar alternatives has expanded rapidly as citizens have been asked, and now ordered, to practice social distancing measures in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With its new expanded emergency powers, the City of Vancouver can now fine businesses up to $50,000 and individuals $1,000 for violating social distancing guidelines.

It’s unclear how the LCRB’s new policy would work to decrease potentially risky social interactions if customers have to meet staff in-store to buy cannabis products.

As its explanation, the branch said no policy direction on non-medical cannabis product reservations was provided previously.

“This policy change now allows licensees to offer reservations of non-medical cannabis products available in their store to customers via their website or by telephone,” it said. “Existing requirements for licensee websites remain and licensees are prohibited from selling non-medical cannabis products online or by telephone. However, licensees may continue online sales of cannabis accessories and gift cards.”

Mugglehead reached out to the B.C. Attorney General’s office on Monday morning about why online sales are not being allowed, and is waiting for comment.

Originally published here.


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

Activist campaign against synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs a pending ‘disaster’ for our food supply

‘Farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.’ Those were the prescient words of US president Dwight Eisenhower. Today, debate about farming has been colonized by environmental activists with little regard for the realities of farming.

In January, the 11th Oxford Real Farming Conference was held just a few days after the Oxford Farming Conference. Ironically, while the Oxford Farming Conference features actual professionals from the farming, biotech and retail sectors, the Real Farming Conference objects to this approach. The ‘Real’ conference was established to fight against ‘industrial’ agriculture. Instead of ‘big business’, it hosts farmers alongside eco-alarmists and the likes of Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion also protested outside the regular Oxford Farming Conference, dressed in bright red, accusing the attendees of killing the planet.

Many eco-warriors take issue with any farming that is non-organic and, in particular, with the use of pesticides and herbicides. Farmers are using herbicides not to upset activists but in an effort to increase crop yields. These products are necessary and safe. They have been approved by medical agencies, food-safety authorities and governments around the globe.

x

What’s more, the kind of organic farming favored by environmentalists is actually bad for the environment. As Chris Bullivant explains on CapX, organic farming produces more greenhouse gases than conventional farming – up to 58 per cent more, in fact.

Nevertheless, the Real Farming Conference promoted an ‘organic transition’ away from the use of copper, plastics and ‘other contentious inputs’. Instead of industrial farming, the conference promotes ‘agroecology’ and ‘peasant farming’ – a back-to-basics approach without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs and herbicides.

An agroecological approach would be a disaster for our food supply. Agroecology researchers themselves admit that this form of agriculture would decrease agricultural production by 35 per cent. But no matter. The activists’ goal is the complete annihilation of conventional intensive farming at any cost.

Modern intensive farming techniques have successfully rid most of our farmland of invasive species and other pests. In the face of this obvious success, the opponents of modern farming have had to stoop to questionable science.At an agroecology conference in Kenya last June, one of the featured speakers was conspiracy theorist Tyrone Hayes. His research gave rise to the conspiracy-monger Alex Jones’s infamous claim that atrazine, a widely used herbicide, ‘turns frogs gay’.

Also promoted as a top-tier speaker was Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French biologist and science correspondent for Le Monde (though he was, in the end, a no-show). Séralini is one of the world’s best-known opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A major anti-GMO study he authored in 2012 has since been retracted and debunked by four government-funded studies (three by the EU and one by France). The scandal became known as the ‘Seralini Affair’. The case against GMOs is based on pseudoscience, but this does not trouble the agroecology movement.

The unfortunate truth is that these agroecology activists are influential. For instance, the head of the UK Soil Association, Gareth Morgan, is regularly quoted in national newspapers. He is agitating for a ban on all pesticides and fertilizers and wants the government to endorse agroecology. Parliament already has an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology. In 2018, Michael Gove, when he was environment secretary, spoke at the Real Farming Conference.

Farming and our food supply are far too important to be sacrificed to the pet projects of conspiracy theorists and radical environmentalists.

Originally published here.


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

Outside the EU, the UK should set its sights on agricultural innovation

Love or hate it, Brexit offers many opportunities for regulatory overhaul. The recently released UK budget gets rid of the tampon tax, a financial instrument long criticised by the feminist movement (and rightfully so). Another tool of regulation which the European Union has long imposed on Britain should now also be axed: the 2001 directive on genetically modified foods. Especially with the current turbulence looming over financial markets, the UK has an obligation to its citizens to allow for better and cheaper food in the shops. New agricultural technologies can make this a reality.

The directive made genetic engineering for the purpose of agriculture practically illegal. Apart from a set of imports and a very select amount of crops, genetic engineering is itself illegal in the EU. Indeed, the language of the legislation is revealing: by calling these foods “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) – which is not a scientific description because genetic engineering describes the process, not the end product – the EU showed that its motivations were political, not scientific. Key features stand out in the legislation, for instance in this definition:

“genetically modified organism (GMO)” means an organism, with the exception of human beings, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination;”

The informed reader might know that crop varieties carrying gene mutations through radiation and chemical treatment would fall under this definition, but they are actually exempt in the same directive. It occurred to the European Union that radioactively treated foods that have existed since the 1950s would be outlawed, and so an exemption was made for this form of mutagenesis. While chemical treatments and radiation are imprecise, newer breeding technologies are not.

And this is where the UK can have an advantage over the sclerotic regulation in the EU. Gene editing, also known as “new breeding technologies (NBT)”, is a newer form of genetic engineering, in which modern technologies (such as gene scissors) are used to edit existing DNA.

Gene editing allows us to either remove, silence or insert genes from within species. This is in contrast to the often criticised transgenesis in which genes of one species are inserted into the DNA of another (hence the slur “Frankenfood”). Gene editing has the potential to make enormous advances for human health and agriculture, through a faster mechanism of editing out undesired genomes. It can be so precise in its genetic engineering, that breeding techniques from the last century appear (and are) random.

We are just at the beginning of discovering precision gene editing but even in its infant stage, it is already the most precise way of eliminating unwanted genes in crops. One example is breeding gluten-free wheat, a blessing for everyone suffering from celiac disease.

In a press release by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) earlier this month, scientists explain that the current EU rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO) are not fit for purpose anymore. In a court ruling in 2018, the European court of justice had decided that new breeding technologies should be considered as GMOs, and would, therefore, be outlawed in the EU. 

The EASAC explains that current GMO classifications lack a scientific foundation. Robin Fears, head of the EASAC’s biosciences programme explains:

“A lot has happened since the first regulations have been adopted almost 20 years ago. Reform must strengthen the use of scientific evidence and tackle future uncertainties. In parallel, we need a continued and transparent discussion of the critical, including ethical, issues to build trust between scientists and the public.”

As scientists are battling the European Union to change legislation – which is provenly lengthy and hijacked by anti-science campaigners such as Greenpeace – the UK has a unique opportunity to bypass this challenge and scrap the 2001 directive altogether. Westminster could create its own set of rules, allowing for a fast-tracked authorisation process on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to sweeping and unscientific generalisations by Brussels.

In a time of economic uncertainty, genetic engineering gives us the opportunity to make food safer, cheaper and more affordable. Evidence shows that genome editing has benefits for nutrition and productive, low-pesticide and resource-conserving agriculture. If the government seeks to combine its efforts for improved purchase power, while reducing its CO2 emissions and cutting (now necessary) crop protection tools, then it should look to cut red tape on vital agricultural technology.

Originally published here.


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

Schimmelpilzgifte, nein danke!

Titelbild

Umweltaktivisten wollen Fungizide verbieten. Dadurch gefährden sie die Gesundheit von Verbrauchern.

Mechanisierung, landwirtschaftliche Intensivierung, synthetische Düngemittel und sogar Drohnen sind heute Teil der modernen Landwirtschaft. Dies ermöglicht uns, selbst in Krisenzeiten wie jetzt, täglich Milliarden von Menschen zu ernähren. Im Vergleich zu unseren Vorfahren haben wir große Fortschritte in der Lebensmittelproduktion gemacht.

Die Massenproduktion von Lebensmitteln hat aber auch ihre Gegner, oft Umweltschützer, die mit der Ressourcennutzung, der Tierhaltung oder dem Konsumverhalten unzufrieden sind. Stellen Sie sich eine Zeitreise vor und erklären Sie den Menschen in der Vergangenheit, dass es eine Welt geben wird, in der sich der Durchschnittsbürger frisches Gemüse und Fleisch jederzeit  leisten kann. Gleichzeitig gibt es Menschen, die sich diesem immensen Fortschritt widersetzen.

Es ist nichts an sich verkehrt daran, nostalgisch zu sein: Auch heute noch gibt es landwirtschaftliche Initiativen, die altmodische Methoden praktizieren und von der eigenen Produktion in einer Kommune leben. Schaden entsteht durch solche Subsistenzwirtschaft eigentlich keiner. Allerdings sind die Umweltschützer weit über die Romantik der alten Zeiten hinausgegangen: Sie haben sich vorgenommen, die moderne Landwirtschaft komplett auf den Kopf zu stellen, wenn nötig auch durch Unwahrheiten.

Ein riesiges Netzwerk von Organisationen, darunter bekannte Akteure wie Greenpeace, veröffentlichen in mehreren Ländern unwissenschaftliche Publikationen: Ihr neuestes Ziel sind Fungizide.

Fungizide werden zur Bekämpfung von Pilzsporen eingesetzt, die, wenn sie von der Außenseite der Pflanze in ihr Inneres getragen werden, für die menschliche Gesundheit gefährlich sind. Diese Schimmelpilze produzieren Mykotoxine. Mykotoxine werden in Unterkategorien unterteilt, nämlich Aflatoxine, Ochratoxin A (OTA), Fumonisine (FUM), Zearalenon (ZEN) und Deoxynivalenol (DON – auch bekannt als Vomitoxin), die alle durch den Verzehr von kontaminierten Lebensmitteln, einschließlich Milchprodukten, aufgenommen werden können (da sie von infizierten Tieren in Milch, Eier oder Fleisch übertragen werden können).

Die gefährlichsten Arten sind Aflatoxine, die Mais, Weizen, Reis, Sojabohnen, Erdnüsse und Nüsse befallen und Krebs verursachen können. Am beunruhigendsten ist, dass bis zu 28 Prozent aller Leberkrebserkrankungen auf Aflatoxine zurückzuführen sind und dass die immunsuppressiven Eigenschaften dieser Toxine Patienten anderen Krankheiten gegenüber schwächen.

In Afrika ist dies eine tödliche Epidemie. Aflatoxine sind hier tödlicher als Malaria oder Tuberkulose, 40 Prozent aller Leberkrebserkrankungen in Afrika stehen mit ihnen in Zusammenhang. Eine Mykotoxinkontamination kann durch unangemessene Lagerung von Lebensmitteln auftreten. Die häufigste Ursache ist jedoch das Fehlen adäquater Pflanzenschutzmaßnahmen, einschließlich Chemikalien. Durch Mykotoxinkontamination verliert Afrika jedes Jahr Millionen Dollar an Nahrungsexporten.

Dies ist jedoch nicht nur in Afrika ein Problem. Auch in Europa besteht nach Daten von 2017 ein hohes Risiko der Mykotoxinbelastung. Eine 10-Jahres-Umfrage des BIOMIN-Forschungszentrums in Österreich ergab, dass etwa 20 Prozent der mitteleuropäischen und fast 12 Prozent der südeuropäischen Getreidefuttermittel die EU-Grenzwerte überschreiten. Im Jahr 2013 beantragte Frankreich eine Ausnahme von der EU-Verordnung über Mykotoxine für Maisproben, da die Ernte sonst weitgehend unbrauchbar gewesen wäre. Daten aus dem Jahr 2018 zeigen, dass 6 Prozent der Feld- und 15 Prozent der französischen Silomaisproben mit Aflatoxinen kontaminiert waren. Die Hälfte aller Vollkornnudeln sind durch Schimmelpilze verunreinigt.

Die Europäische Union sowie die nationalen Behörden für Lebensmittelsicherheit haben ein Dutzend SDHI-Fungizide zugelassen, die Mykotoxine bekämpfen und erst im vergangenen Jahr erneut als sicher bestätigt wurden. Umweltschützer wiederum verlassen sich auf die Ergebnisse französischer Forscher, die 2018 vorgestellt wurden. Ihre Behauptungen: SDHI-Fungizide können seltene Krebsarten und neurologische Beeinträchtigungen verursachen. Ferner werfen sie den aktuellen toxikologischen Berichten vor, ungenau zu sein.

Die französische Behörde für Lebensmittelsicherheit (ANSES) veröffentlichte einen Bericht, der diese Behauptungen widerlegt. Die Behörde fand keine Grundlage für die Behauptungen dieser Recherche und erklärte, dass SDHIs schnell verstoffwechselt und aus dem Körper ausgeschieden werden und dass – obwohl diese Fungizide schon lange auf dem Markt sind – keine wissenschaftlichen Beweise für schädliche Auswirkungen auf die menschliche Gesundheit oder die Umwelt vorliegen.

Trotz Angriffen auf die Integrität von ANSES (die sowohl den Dialog als auch die Veröffentlichung aller ihrer SDHI-Daten zur Überprüfung angeboten hatte) haben diese Aktivisten keine weiteren Belege für ihre Theorie vorgelegt. Das hat Umweltschutzgruppen nicht daran gehindert, das Verbot aller Fungizide und eine extreme Wende der Landwirtschaft zu fordern, die jede Art von Biotechnologie und Chemie meidet.

Sollten sie beim Verbot von SDHI in Frankreich erfolgreich sein, würden die Aktivisten ihre Agenda auf der nächsten Ebene realisieren wollen: in der Europäischen Union. Resultat wäre ein langer Kampf um die Zukunft der konventionellen Landwirtschaft, und es besteht kein Zweifel, dass diese Aktivisten weiterhin Fakten verzerrt und wissenschaftlich unzutreffend darstellen werden.

Wir dürfen es nicht so weit kommen lassen. Die Ernährungssicherheit und die Gesundheit der Verbraucher stehen auf dem Spiel. Wenn das Argument lauten würde, dass die Gentechnik billigere und bessere Möglichkeiten zur Bekämpfung von Insekten und Mykotoxinen bietet, dann wäre das ein gültiges wissenschaftliches Argument, das Unterstützung verdient. Umweltschützer haben jedoch auch wenig Offenheit gegenüber neuen Züchtungstechnologien gezeigt und befürworten ihrerseits den ökologischen Landbau, also die altmodisch bäuerliche Landwirtschaft ohne moderne Technologie. Unsere Vorfahren wären zu Recht entsetzt über den Gedanken, dass dies geschehen könnte.

Wir müssen begründete Argumente für die wissenschaftliche Methode vorbringen. Nur so können wir verhindern, dass die Zukunft zur Vergangenheit wird.

Originally published here.


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

En telcolobby hekelt netneutraliteit in coronatijd

Europees afknijpverzoek aan Netflix is ‘onnodig, en de schuld van netneutraliteit’.

“De EU dwingt het internet om langzamer te zijn, dankzij netneutraliteit”, luidt de boodschap van het Consumer Choice Center. Het beperken van de snelheid en kwaliteit van online-diensten zoals Netflix zou niet alleen onnodig zijn, maar ook schadelijk voor alle Europese consumenten die nu thuiszitten en thuiswerken. Aldus deze Amerikaanse lobbygroep die de belangen behartigt van onder meer sigarettenfabrikanten en telecomaanbieders.

Het verzoek van Eurocommissaris Thierry Breton aan Netflix om videokwaliteit terug te schroeven, wordt door het Consumer Choice Center geïnterpreteerd als EU-bevel wat onnodig en schadelijk is. Breton heeft afgelopen week in een tweet laten weten dat hij Netflix-CEO Reed Hastings heeft verzocht om naar standaardresolutie ‘terug te schakelen’ wanneer HD-video niet echt nodig is. Dit uit voorzorg om mogelijke overbelasting te voorkomen door thuiswerken en videostreamen bij zelf-quarantine en lockdowns in EU-landen.

Lobbygroep Consumer Choice Center stelt in een rondgemaild persbericht vandaag dat de Eurocommissaris voor de interne markt digitale streamingdiensten en dienstverleners heeft gevraag om hun bandbreedte te beperken tijdens de COVID-19 crisis. “Dit bevel is gegeven ondanks bewijs dat breedbandcapaciteit nog lang niet aan zijn grenzen zit”, aldus de in Brussel gevestigde organisatie. Bij deze stellingname over bandbreedtegrenzen verwijst het lobbycentrum naar een artikel in Engadget over Bretons tweet.

‘Geen problemen in UK, India en China’

Daarin stellen Vodafone UK en Telecom Italia dat er toenemend internetverkeer met andere pieken in de netwerkbelasting zijn, maar geen berichten van wijdverbreide uitval. Ook een tweet van de Britse security-expert Kevin Beaumont over bandbreedtebelasting in Manchester wordt aangehaald door Engadget, wat weer wordt aangehaald door het Consumer Choice Center. De lobbygroep voor onder meer de tabaks- en telecomindustrie linkt in zijn protesterende persbericht tegen het afknijpverzoek van de EU ook naar een artikel in The Indian Express.

Daarin worden meetresultaten van snelheidsmeetdienst Ookla belicht, voor vaste en mobiele breedbandverbindingen in bepaalde Aziatische landen. Daaronder China, waar het nieuwe coronavirus voor het eerst is losgebarsten, en India, Japan en Maleisië. In die landen was er vooralsnog geen sprake van grote stijgingen in het gebruik van bandbreedte sinds het uitbreken van COVID-19. “Zelfs in Italië, dat al weken in lockdown verkeert, zijn er geen meldingen van wijdverbreide storingen”, vervolgt het Consumer Choice Center zijn boodschap.

Marktwerking en netneutraliteit

Volgens topman Luca Bertoletti geven alle grote telecomproviders in Europa aan dat ze stabiele, sterke en snelle verbindingen leveren aan consumenten, en dat die dat zeer waarderen. “Tegelijkertijd vragen de Europese beleidsmakers bedrijven om hun internetdiensten te vertragen voor alle Europeanen, wat duidelijk onnodig is en schadelijk voor alle consumenten die vertrouwen op snelle internetverbindingen voor hun werk en hun privé bestaan”, aldus Bertoletti die ook lid is van een rechtse denktank die vóór vrije marktwerking is. De forse financiering voor het Consumer Choice Center zou ook vanuit rechtse hoek komen.

Adjunct-directeur Yaël Ossowski van het Consumer Choice Center wijst in het ook online gepubliceerde persbericht nu Europese netneutraliteit aan als de boosdoener. “Dit scenario in Europa is exact de reden waarom de Verenigde Staten in 2018 netneutraliteitsregulering heeft herroepen.” Hij spreekt van ‘beleefde dwang’ die overheidsinstanties uitoefenen op digitale bedrijven om streamingdiensten van lagere kwaliteit te leveren.

‘Verkeer overlaten aan telcombedrijven’

“Dat is niet alleen slecht publiek beleid, maar het toont ook aan waarom breedbandproviders en niet overheidsregelgevers het beste gepositioneerd zijn om ons online-verkeer te dirigeren, of dat nu in normale tijden is of in tijden van crisis.” Ossowski uit de hoop dat dit mensen tot nadenken zet wat betreft steun voor verdere overheidsregulering van het internet en digitale diensten.

Originally published here.


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

COVID-19 and craft beer: Normally only 12 states allow delivery of all alcohol. Why is that?

COVID-19 has exposed many holes in America’s state alcohol laws. Maryland just suspended its shortsighted craft beer carryout purchase limits because it only legally allowed one case per customer. The likes of Colorado, California and even Texas are allowing bars and restaurants now to sell alcohol to-go, which is not normally legal, and now the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing distilled spirits permittees to produce hand sanitizer. Let freedom ring.

But without the current COVID-19 crisis this would normally not happen. Do you know how many states normally allow alcohol delivery legally? According to Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), in a recent press release:

“Consumers can order thousands of household products and food from the internet, but prohibitions on shipping alcohol remain on the books. Instead of emergency laws allowing home delivery of alcohol for a short period of time, states should immediately move to make these laws permanent to increase consumer choice for every American. At present, 12 states allow for some method of delivery of all alcohol, and 31 states allow wine and beer to be purchased and shipped to consumers’ homes. Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Deleware currently bar alcohol deliveries to personal residences.

“Allowing for alcohol delivery will help consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak in the short term, but will also help boost economic activity and increase competition and options for consumers in the long term,” said Ossowski. “There are dozens of innovative apps and online services like Drizly and Thirstie that are beginning to offer alcohol delivery in real-time, but the legal status is uncertain.”

States should allow alcohol delivery and to-go purchases beyond this crisis

If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at home right now — just like millions of other Americans in the face of COVID-19. State alcohol restrictions are being temporarily lifted via emergency declarations issued by state legislators to help support restaurants and small businesses that will not normally be allowed to deliver alcohol to people’s homes or sell them to-go. Feels like now is a good time to make that permanent.

Originally published here.


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

When we’re back to normal: Free up spirits sales

Prince Edward Island made an international stir on Thursday by closing its liquor and cannabis stores on the grounds they were not providing essential services and therefore should be shuttered in the face of the pandemic. That may well have been the right decision. But it likely caused millions of people to reflect that, while binge-viewing their favourite streaming service or relaxing after a day of Monopoly with the kids, it would be more than nice to relax with a glass of their favourite beverage or ingestive. No one favours substance abuse. But responsible enjoyment of their relaxant of choice is something adults should be free to choose to do.

Except that in many places in Canada, governments have not made that choice very easy. Ontario historically has been such a place. But in the 2018 provincial election now-Premier Doug Ford made a commitment to expand retail access and consumer choice for the 11.6 million Ontarians who consume alcohol. So far, Ford’s main push has been to expand retail sales by allowing alcohol to be sold at convenience stores. When his government announced this change in May 2019, most long-suffering Ontario alcohol consumers rejoiced. Unfortunately, prospects for their liberation soon dimmed because of a legal battle with The Beer Store. For obvious reasons, the whole question of market structures for alcohol sales is on the far back burner. But eventually this political struggle will resume. Here’s how spirits could help break the logjam.

As a foreign-owned corporate entity with a near-monopoly on the sale of beer, The Beer Store is a powerful force in the province. After Ford’s announcement, it threatened the government with a $1-billion lawsuit for breach of contract if the “Master Framework Agreement” was terminated. That agreement prohibits Ontario from allowing increased beer retail beyond 450 approved grocery stores until after 2025.

Although pro-consumer organizations have urged the government to call The Beer Store’s bluff, arguing that its legal position is weaker than its PR suggests, the premier seems unwilling to proceed without first negotiating with The Beer Store. That’s a decidedly un-populist win for corporatism at the expense of Ontario consumers.

Yet the Ford government isn’t entirely handcuffed by the agreement Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals signed onto in 2015. If Ford wants to show his commitment to increasing consumer access in Ontario, but without ripping up the Master Framework Agreement, he should simply expand product variety at the 450 approved grocery stores provincewide. With the stroke of a pen, the province could allow approved grocery stores to sell spirits alongside the beer and wine they already sell. Nothing in the agreement prohibits this, and it would make an immediate impact for Ontario consumers.

Such a move would clearly demonstrate the Ford government’s commitment to greater choice for alcohol consumers and would let The Beer Store know the province is serious about liberalizing markets for alcohol.

Allowing spirits to be sold in grocery stores would also create a fairer marketplace for consumers, retailers and producers. As it currently stands, spirits can’t be sold in grocery stores. This obviously disadvantages both the consumers who prefer spirits, and the stores that would willingly sell these products. It also seriously disadvantages local Ontario distillers, as their products are prohibited from being sold alongside beer and wine. Frankly, it is silly that foreign-made wine and beer can be sold at grocery stores, but Ontario-made spirits, made with Ontario grains, can’t be.

Beyond expanding consumer choice and market equity, giving spirits the green light would help prepare the province for a full-scale rollout once convenience stores are brought into the retail market. Letting grocery stores sell spirits would pave the way for convenience stores to do the same, and that would be a significant boon to consumers who at the moment can only choose between a government monopoly or a government-protected corporate one.

For the moment, Doug Ford’s hands may be tied by past agreements and negotiations with The Beer Store. Luckily for lovers of spirits, there is an easy policy change that could expand access while avoiding a costly legal battle. For the sake of everyone who enjoys a cold drink in Ontario, let’s hope Ford follows through and values consumers over corporatism.

Originally published here.


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

Apakah Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual di Bidang Medis Menguntungkan Konsumen?

Penulis Haikal Kurniawan – Usia harapan hidup dunia kian naik dari tahun ke tahun. Pada tahun 2020, diprediksi ada lebih banyak penduduk dunia yang berusia di atas 64 tahun daripada anak-anak di bawah usia 5 tahun (Roeder, 2019). Hal ini tentu merupakan suatu capaian yang mengagumkan, dan sangat perlu untuk diapresiasi.

Salah satu hal yang memainkan peran besar atas hal tersebut adalah inovasi dan perkembangan sains dan teknologi di bidang medis. Berbagai kemajuan di bidang tersebut telah membantu umat manusia untuk memiliki usia jauh lebih panjang daripada leluhur mereka yang hidup di masa lalu.

Konsumen tentu merupakan pihak yang paling diuntungkan dari perkembangan tersebut. Melalui berbagai inovasi, konsumen diberikan berbagai macam pilihan untuk memilih obat-obatan medis yang lebih beragam dan ampuh untuk mengatasi berbagai penyakit.

Lantas, apakah perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual memiliki kaitan erat perkembangan sains dan teknologi tersebut?

*****

Hak Kekayaan Intelektual, atau HAKI, merupakan salah satu hak yang diakui secara global oleh dunia internasional. Deklarasi Universal Hak Asasi Manusia (DUHAM), Pasal 27 UDHR, menyatakan dengan eksplisit bahwa “Setiap manusia memiliki hak untuk mendapatkan perlindungan, baik secara moral, maupun kepentingan material, yang dihasilkan dari hasil karya saintifik, literatur, maupun seni yang dibuatnya.”

Perlindungan HAKI merupakan salah satu instrumen yang dibuat untuk melindungi para inovator dan seniman atas hasil jerih payah mereka. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap HAKI, tentu mustahil para inovator dan seniman yang sudah bekerja keras membuat karya tertentu untuk menikmati hasil kreatifitas yang mereka buat. Orang-orang lain, yang tidak melakukan apa-apa, akan dengan mudah mengkopi dan membajak hasil karya tersebut untuk keuntungan mereka sendiri.

Hal yang sama juga berlaku untuk inovasi di bidang teknologi kedokteran, pangan, dan kesehatan. Satu hal yang memiliki peran sangat besar untuk mendorong perkembangan tersebut adalah para investor yang menginvestasikan dana mereka untuk riset dan penelitian.

Jumlah dana yang diinvestasikan tersebut tidaklah kecil. Profesor dari Fakultas Kesehatan Universitas Tufts, Joseph Dimasi, dalam jurnalnya yang berjudul “Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry: New estimates of R&D costs” memberi estimasi, agar sebuah obat bisa dipakai oleh pasien dari nol, dibutuhkan waktu riset selama 12,5 tahun dan dana sebesar 2,8 milyar Dollar Amerika, atau lebih dari 35 triliun rupiah (DiMasi, 2016).

Dana tersebut tentu bukan jumlah yang sedikit. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap HAKI, tentu insentif para investor untuk menginvestasikan uang yang mereka miliki menjadi berkurang, dan bahkan hilang. Hal tersebut tentu akan sangat merugikan banyak pihak, terutama konsumen yang membutuhkan obat-obatan medis terbaru, karena riset dan penelitian menjadi terhambat.

Akan tetapi, bukankah HAKI di bidang medis akan mendorong perilaku rakus yang dilakukan oleh berbagai perusahaan farmasi demi keuntungan sebesar-besarnya?

Memang, kerakusan perusahaan farmasi demi meraih keuntungan sebesar-besarnya merupakan karikatur yang kerap digambarkan oleh para aktivis dan para politisi yang memiliki haluan kiri.

Namun, kenyataannya tidaklah demikian. Perusahaan farmasi asal Britania Raya GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) misalnya, memberlakukan kebijakan pemotongan harga obat yang mereka jual di negara-negara berkembang sebesar 25% dari dengan harga di negara-negara maju. Selain itu, perusahaan farmasi asal Swiss, Novartis, sejak tahun 2011, telah mendistribusikan lebih dari 850 juta obat anti malaria ke lebih dari 60 negara dengan jumlah penderita malaria tertinggi, tanpa mengambil profit sama sekali (Medicine for Malaria Venture, 2019).

Lantas, bila demikian, bagaimana kita dapat mengatasi biaya obat-obatan medis yang tinggi?

Cara untuk mengatasi hal tersebut bukanlah dengan menghapus HAKI, karena hal tersebut akan menghilangkan insentif yang sangat dibutuhkan untuk mendorong kemajuan di bidang medis. Solusi yang paling efisien untuk menurunkan harga obat-obatan agar terjangkau adalah menghapuskan berbagai kebijakan pemerintah yang mendorong kenaikan harga tersebut, diantaranya adalah tarif impor dan izin birokrasi yang rumit.

Tarif impor untuk produk obat-obatan medis tentu akan mendorong kenaikan harga barang tersebut di pasar, dimana yang paling dirugikan adalah masyarakat kelas menengah ke bawah. Nepal misalnya, memberlakukan kebijakan tarif impor untuk produk medis sebesar 14,7%. Tarif impor untuk obat-obatan medis di Indonesia sendiri adalah 4,3% (IDN Times, 2019).

Izin yang rumit dan berbelit juga merupakan hal yang tentu sangat menghambat perkembangan dan membuat biaya obat menjadi meningkat. Berdasarkan laporan Tempo misalnya, Menteri Kesehatan, Terawan Agus Purwanto, menyatakan bahwa izin peredaran obat baru di Indonesia bisa memakan waktu hingga berbulan-bulan, ia berjanji akan mengatasi persoalan tersebut (Tempo, 2020).

HAKI di bidang medis merupakan hal yang patut untuk dijaga demi mendorong perkembangan sains dan teknologi di bidang medis, yang tentunya akan membawa manfaat besar bagi umat manusia. Pemerintah dalam hal ini seharusnya menjadi pihak yang menjaga hak tersebut, bukan menjadi aktor yang mempersulit inovasi melalui berbagai regulasi ketat yang nantinya akan merugikan masyarakat.

Originally published here.


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

No need for bailouts, just lower flight taxes

In an attempt to contain coronavirus, governments all across the world have imposed various travel restrictions. As it usually happens, the road to hell is paved with noble goals and good intentions. The airline industry that has made travelling between continents and cities more pleasant, time-efficient and affordable will, unfortunately, be hugely affected by these travel bans. 

In fact, the potential damage may end up being so extensive that some legacy and low-cost airlines will cease to exist and cheap tickets will only be a sweet memory from the past. This would be disastrous for consumer choice.

Not all is lost though. There are a number of ways in which governments can help the industry during these trying times. Bailouts usually come first to mind.  Airlines for America, the industry association for various U.S. airlines, has already asked for 50bn USD in support. Many more are likely going to follow. 

As the government is partly responsible for the upcoming downfall of airlines, it is understandable why airlines would seek its assistance in mitigating the damage. However, every bailout is a redistribution of taxpayers’ money without their consent. Do all taxpayers want their money to be used for saving bankrupt airlines? Have all of them travelled by plane at all? Or maybe they are more concerned with the threats posed by the pandemic and would prefer the government to channel their money into healthcare services? Probably the latter would make more sense given the current situation.

Once travel restrictions are lifted, consumers and passengers are going to be very happy to travel again. And in order to catapult the demand, governments should reduce taxes imposed on the tickets we buy. Not only will this help boost an industry without the need for bailouts, but it will also allow passengers of every income group to visit their families, attend meetings, and travel without any additional barriers. 

Every tax imposed on airlines makes the price of flying higher for consumers. Never believe it when governments say they are taxing airlines: it’s actually us consumers who foot the bill. And once the pandemic is over, our subjective value of travelling without limits will increase thus making us appreciate the miracles of air travel way more. We will want to fly more not less. Incentives in the form of lower prices – thanks to lower taxes- will be good news for every consumer.

We’ve started taking flying and travelling as such for granted, and the globalisation that was fostered by it has come under fire in light of the coronavirus outbreak. 

But these temporary bad times shouldn’t make us forget about the possibilities of air travel. Many of us are quarantining these days and feel trapped inside the four walls of our apartments. Skimming through our pictures from past travels and daydreaming about being able to visit more places makes it more bearable. 

When all this ends, we will want governments to ensure we can fly just like before, and as cheaply as possible. No need for bailouts, just lower flight taxes. This will make our post-coronavirus reality so much more enjoyable and guarantee a strong position for airlines for years to come.


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

Scroll to top