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Month: May 2020

Illiberal regimes are exploiting the pandemic to attack the foundations of democracy

It took us 75 years to rebuild freedom in some parts of Europe after the totalitarian horrors of World War Two, and less than three weeks to bring it to its knees again.

With coronavirus looming in the background, worrying erosions of the freedom of speech and media are being rushed through Europe.

On March 30, Hungary’s parliament passed a law that allows the leader of the country’s nationalist movement, Viktor Orban, to rule by decree indefinitely. The law makes it possible for Orban’s government to imprison anyone who publicises false facts that interfere with the “successful defence” of public health, or can create “confusion or unrest” related to the coronavirus.

The witch-hunt after personal freedoms followed and led to a number of arrests. Such a sweeping amount of discretion on the side of government is a death sentence for freedom of speech, the cornerstone of democracy.

Freedom of speech plays an essential role in establishing accountability between the government and its electorate, and it facilitates indiscriminate, back-and-forth communication. When governments monopolise this freedom, democracy can be extinguished.

Orban chose the right target. Even though it is claimed that these laws will be relieved once the pandemic is over, his record suggests the opposite. Since his victory in 2010, Orban has tightened state control over the media to suppress any opposition and eroded, step-by-step, institutional checks and balances. According to him a state need not be liberal to be a democracy.

But it’s not just Hungary. In Serbia, the government’s decree about the centralisation of information during the coronavirus emergency gave rise to arrests. On April 1, after reporting about a shortage of protective medical equipment available for staff at a medical centre in Serbia, Ana Lalić, a Serbian journalist, was detained. Lalić was charged with causing public unrest by spreading fake news during the emergency.

In a similar fashion, the Polish Ministry of Health made it illegal for medical consultants to issue independent opinions on the epidemiological situation, the state of hospitals, and methods of protection against infection. Speaking up about the lack of protective equipment can cost Polish doctors a job.

Meanwhile both Slovenia and the Czech Republic have announced that they are ending the presence of journalists at official press conferences altogether. According to Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, a Slovenian journalist who requested information about the measures adopted by the government to address the pandemic has been the target of a smear campaign by media close to the political party leading the government coalition.

Despite the growing number of cases in Russia, Vladimir Putin continues to push for a nationwide vote on constitutional reform which could enable him to stay in power until 2036. On May 13, Russian lawmakers passed a bill that allows Russians to vote by mail or online for Putin’s constitutional amendments. Most likely Putin will get it his way since, similar to the direction chosen by Hungary, speaking up against the government automatically makes you a heretic.

Where people are pushed into choosing between the protection of their life and that of their loved ones and an act of political resistance, most opt for silence. Yet forcing such a choice is inhumane, manipulative and, in the end, will lead to the demise of those governments that do so.

An ardent admirer of China’s measures to halt the coronavirus, Putin has also resorted to outright totalitarian measures. The Financial Times and New York Times might soon be banned from Russia for revealing the truth about the death rate in the country. However, the first target of Russia’s anti-fake news campaign has been its own citizens, who are being fined for spreading ‘fake information’ about Covid-19. The already very small number of civil freedoms in Russia is under enormous threat.

Free elections are a key trait of democratic regimesm but are not sufficient in themselves. Genuine democracy cannot exist without civil rights and, in particular, the right to resist through protests, free speech, and a free media.

One could hardly imagine a better excuse to quickly proceed with illiberal agenda than a public health emergency. There is a reason why illiberal governments invest so much in propaganda. The very root of their power lies in artificially created and frighteningly powerful narratives that are repeatedly and consistently spread whilst censoring every voice of dissent. Freedom of expression is to democracy what property rights are to the economy. The monopolisation of either leads to disruption.

So we’re at an impasse. On the one hand, this pandemic might dissuade us from taking cues from the unfree world and its tactics.

On the other, the emergency nightmare might turn into our permanent reality by giving governments carte blanche to enforce severe restrictions on our liberties. It’s hard to imagine a more effective way to suppress every potential disobedience than through the appeal of fear for our health, not to mention that of our parents, friends, and literally everyone dear to us. This provides illiberal democracies with a once-in-generation opportunity to camouflage their totalitarian pursuits as part of emergency packages to stop the pandemic.

Let us hope that for the best but be prepared to fight back in case of the worst. Democracy is rooted in freedom of speech and media and we have to defend it at all costs.


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

[Marketing Medium] Stockton Shouldn’t Use A Soda Tax To Fund Covid-19 Relief

Stockton, CA –  The City of Stockton is considering a call to overturn California’s ban on local soda taxes, which could open the door for a Stockton soda tax. Supporters of the tax say the funds generated would be used to support Covid-19 relief. David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the DC based Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “A soda tax to fund Covid-19 relief would be incredibly regressive, with low income residents bearing most of the burden. 

from Consumer Choice Center https://ift.tt/2WZrT01

[Marketing Medium] Stockton Shouldn’t Use A Soda Tax To Fund Covid-19 Relief

Stockton, CA –  The City of Stockton is considering a call to overturn California’s ban on local soda taxes, which could open the door for a Stockton soda tax. Supporters of the tax say the funds generated would be used to support Covid-19 relief. David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the DC based Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “A soda tax to fund Covid-19 relief would be incredibly regressive, with low income residents bearing most of the burden. 

source http://meltwater.pressify.io/publication/5ec94508f7ff8a0004b076f5/5aa837df2542970e001981f6

Perché il Sistema Tedesco Funziona

l servizio sanitario in Germania ha retto molto meglio la pressione della crisi Covid-19 rispetto al quello italiano. Stiamo pagando scelte di spesa e investimenti sbagliati, e una burocratizzazione estrema del sistema ospedaliero. Cosa potrebbe succedere qualora in autunno il virus tornasse con forza?

PERCHÉ È IMPORTANTE   Sia in Italia che in Germania circa lo 0.4% della popolazione è risultato positivo al Coronavirus. Mentre la curva dei contagi sembra seguire la stessa traiettoria, la percentuale di morti su 1000 casi è di 3,5 volte superiore in Italia che in Germania.

Perché? Gli ospedali tedeschi hanno una maggior resistenza in tempo di crisi, grazie ad una forte competizione tra di essi, siano essi pubblici o privati.

TESTARE LA DIFFERENZA   Al contrario di quanto avviene in Italia il governo centrale tedesco, insieme ai lander, ha dato via libera ai laboratori privati ai test e nel momento in cui scriviamo più del 3% della popolazione è stata testata. In Italia invece i test si limitano allo 0.5% della popolazione fermandosi a quota 3 milioni circa di cui la metà nelle regioni di Lombardia, Veneto e Piemonte.

Ricordando che in Germania l’epidemia è iniziata circa 10 giorni dopo rispetto l’Italia possiamo ampiamente notare come il governo a guida Merkel abbia reagito diversamente da quello Italiano.

CENTRALISMO VS. FEDERALISMO   Infatti non solo in Germania sono i cittadini a decidere se fare il test e dove, ma il governo federale ha anche istituito grazie al supporto di aziende private, i cosiddetti laboratori drive in dove i tamponi vengono fatti direttamente dal finestrino dell’auto.

In Italia al contrario si è deciso per centralizzare tutto in alcuni laboratori statali, e seguendo le direttive OMS, si è deciso di fare i tamponi solo ai soggetti fortemente sintomatici (fatta eccezione per il Veneto dove invece il governo locale ha deciso di testare tutta la popolazione sia essa sintomatica o meno), portando questi laboratori al quasi totale collasso.

SPESA PUBBLICA E POSTI LETTO   Ma veniamo ad un’altra domanda che in tanti si chiedono. Come mai abbiamo così pochi posti di terapia intensiva quando la spesa sanitaria è la seconda voce per volume della spesa pubblica dopo le pensioni? ln Germania i posti letto a inizio pandemia erano circa il triplo di quelli Italiani (8,6 ogni 100 mila abitanti in Italia contro i 33,9, tedeschi) arrivando a circa 50.2 letti ogni 100 mila abitanti a inizio Maggio. 

Se si considera che la maggior parte dei posti in terapia intensiva sono nelle regioni del Veneto, Lombardia, Piemonte ed Emilia Romagna (circa 3600 su un totale di 9200) si può ampiamente dire che una buona parte dell’Italia è quasi completamente scoperta.

Il motivo di questa scelta è da vedersi nelle scelte dei governi degli ultimi 10 anni in cui si è deciso di investire sul welfare più che sulla cura della persona, e dove si è deciso di non copiare i modelli del nord d’Italia ma di proseguire una politica dedicata a sussidi pubblici ad enti burocratici non funzionanti.

UN PAESE A RISCHIO   L’emergenza è passata e ora c’è da chiedersi siamo pronti per una nuova ondata, che molti esperti dicono arriverà in autunno. Siamo attrezzati per una nuova pandemia?

La risposta è no. Dobbiamo lasciare i privati investire, seguire il modello lombardo di organizzazione sanitaria, che in tanti criticano ma che ha resistito ad uno tsunami, e aggiungere il campionamento a tappeto fatto in Veneto. Bisogna insomma riformare la nostra sanità in stile tedesco, lasciando spazio ai privati di fare competizione al pubblico, senza mai dimenticarsi il principio di universalità del sistema sanitario nazionale.

È necessario riformare il nostro sistema e farlo alla svelta, i modelli vincenti ci sono. Sarà la nostra classe politica pronta a fare questa riforma oppure sarà ancora schiava di logiche clientelari?


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

How to Unfreeze the Economy

This is a post by a Guest Author
Disclaimer: The author’s views are entirely his or her own, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the Consumer Choice Center.


While governments around the world have focussed on pursuing a ‘flatten the curve’ strategy to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also had to pursue a simultaneous economic strategy. That economic strategy was an attempt to freeze the economy is place, until the medical strategy had succeeded, and then to unfreeze the economy.

Reasonable people can argue that different choices could have and should have been made. But here we are.

This is the single largest economic intervention in human history. The economic costs that have already been incurred are astronomical. What is going to happen next?

Well, one view is that when government release their populations from lockdown and quarantine that the economy will ‘snap back’. That we’ll go back to work and the economy will simply spring back to life as if we’d all just had a long holiday.

Some of my RMIT University colleagues and I are less optimistic.

We are firm believers in the power of markets to operate and humans to cooperate in the production of value. We have no doubt that entrepreneurs will be willing to experiment, creating new opportunities, business models and consumer goods. But …

The economy that emerges from the COVID-pandemic will be a lot smaller than the economy was just two months ago. Many of the patterns of economic production and cooperation will be broken or destroyed. Many of the entrepreneurial plans that were in place and unfolding are now totally disrupted.

The one thing that has not shrunk, however, is the regulatory state. If the economy was over-regulated and over-burdened by taxation just two months ago, imagine how much more the much smaller post-COVID economy will be over-regulated and overtaxed. Many government have relaxed some regulation and taxation to deal with the pandemic – but so much more needs to be done.

In our new book, Unfreeze: How to Create a High Growth Economy After the Pandemic, my colleagues and I set out why we shouldn’t be optimistic about the economy quickly recovering from the COVID pandemic and what government needs to do to facilitate not just a recovery from the crisis but how to restore our prosperity.

Sinclair Davidson is a professor of economics at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia and an Adjunct Economics Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.


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

Après cette crise, ne cédons pas au protectionnisme

Face à la crise du COVID-19, nous entendons de plus en plus d’appels en faveur d’une politique économique protectionniste. Cependant, cette politique est intellectuellement en faillite depuis des siècles et nuit au bien-être des consommateurs.

Au niveau politique, le COVID-19 nous a montré une chose : les positions politiques sont bien enlisées. Tous les bords politiques se sentent confirmés dans leurs visions du monde précédant cette crise. Les socialistes affirment que cette crise confirme que la sécurité sociale n’est pas assez développée. Pour les nationalistes, c’est la globalisation et l’ouverture des frontières qui a causé cette pandémie. Les fédéralistes européens pensent que la crise COVID-19 démontre l’importance de la  centralisation des décisions dans l’Union européenne. Enfin, les écologistes trouvent que la baisse drastique de la production permet une société plus propre et qu’il est possible de vivre avec beaucoup moins..

Comme tous ces groupes, les protectionnistes jouent leur propre jeu politique et affirment que non seulement il nous faut plus de droits de douane mais aussi qu’il faut “faire revenir” la production en Europe. 

Ils se plaignent de la dépendance européenne face à des pays comme la Chine ou l’Inde et que cette crise a montré l’intérêt de rapatrier des industries qu’ils jugent plus essentiels que d’autres. Les idées protectionnistes ont la particularité d’être représentées autant à l’extrême-gauche qu’à l’extrême-droite voir même au centre du spectre politique. Il s’avère que le protectionnisme est ancré dans notre esprit politique depuis des siècles.

Le colbertisme semble éternel

Jean-Baptiste Colbert, ministre des finances sous Louis XIV, s’était engagé dans une avalanche d’octroi de monopoles, de subventions de luxe et de privilèges de cartels, et avait mis en place un puissant système de bureaucratie centrale régenté par des fonctionnaires appelés intendants. Le rôle de ces derniers était de faire respecter le réseau de contrôles et de réglementations qu’il avait créé. 

Son système fonctionnait également à grand coups d’inspections, de recensements et de formulaires pour pouvoir identifier les citoyens qui auraient pu s’écarter des réglementations de l’État. Les Intendants ont utilisé un réseau d’espions et d’informateurs pour découvrir toutes les violations des restrictions et des réglementations du cartel. De plus, les espions se surveillaient les uns les autres. Les sanctions pour les violations allaient de la confiscation et la destruction de la production jugée “inférieure”, à de lourdes amendes, des moqueries publiques voir même l’interdiction d’exercer sa profession.

Colbert était aussi convaincu que le commerce international était un jeu à somme nulle. S’inspirant des idées du mercantilisme, il estimait que l’intervention de l’État était nécessaire pour assurer qu’il garde une plus grande partie des ressources à l’intérieur du pays. Le raisonnement est assez simple : pour accumuler de l’or, un pays doit toujours vendre plus de biens à l’étranger qu’il n’en achète. Colbert cherchait à construire une économie française qui vendait à l’étranger mais qui achetait sur le marché intérieur. L’ensemble des mesures économiques de Jean-Baptiste Colbert était connu sous le nom de “colbertisme”.

De nos jours, ce système est connu sous le nom de “protectionnisme”, et reste tout à fait courant dans la pensée politique. En Europe, nous avons abandonné cette philosophie économique (même si la Commission européenne accepte que certains Etats membres subventionnent leurs industries locales en cas de crise), mais vers l’extérieur, l’UE a maintenu trois catégories de mesures protectionnistes :

  1. Les taxes douanières par le tarif extérieur commun,
  2. Les normes de production qui imposent des coûts de convergences,
  3. Les subventions aux producteurs locaux, à travers la Politique Agricole Commune (PAC).

La question est de savoir si ces mesure protègent réellement l’économie européenne. S’il convient de retourner dans le temps pour expliquer les origines du protectionnisme, il faudrait également tirer quelques leçons du passé. Dans son Traité d’économie politique publié en 1841, l’économiste français Jean-Baptiste Say expliquait :

“L’importation des produits étrangers est favorable à la vente des produits indigènes ; car nous ne pouvons acheter les marchandises étrangères qu’avec des produits de notre industrie, de nos terres et de nos capitaux, auxquels ce commerce par conséquent procure un débouché. — C’est en argent, dira-t-on, que nous payons les marchandises étrangères. — Quand cela serait, notre sol ne produisant point d’argent, il faut acheter cet argent avec des produits de notre industrie ; ainsi donc, soit que les achats qu’on fait à l’étranger soient acquittés en marchandises ou en argent, ils procurent à l’industrie nationale des débouchés pareils.”

Considérer l’échange international, surtout dans une perspective de “déficit commercial”, comme un jeu à somme nulle, est erroné. L’idée qu’il faille faire revenir l’industrie en Europe, probablement à travers des mesures commerciales, est également fallacieuse. Il s’avère que la libéralisation des liens commerciaux est avantageux à la fois pour les pays exportateurs et ceux qui importent : les ressources entrant nous procurent la possibilité d’améliorer notre situation économique. 

L’acte commercial bénéficie aux deux acteurs et non à un seul. Croire que seul le vendeur est gagnant (car il gagne de l’argent) est une incompréhension économique grave.

Certes la crise du COVID-19 est très problématique, et nous voyons en effet une pénurie de certains matériaux médicaux. Ceci dit, produire des gants et masques en Europe ne sera pas viable économiquement et qui nous dit que les mêmes outils seront nécessaires pour la prochaine crise sanitaire ? Ceci nous montre encore une fois l’erreur fatale de penser qu’il serait possible d’organiser la société et son économie par une planification centrale gérée par l’Etat.

Tout comme le disait Jean-Baptiste Say dans ses oeuvres, pour (re)lancer l’activité économique, il faut enlever les mesures qui nous ralentissent, dont la bureaucratie excessive et l’excès de taxes. En d’autres termes, il s’agit de ne pas entraver les échanges mais plutôt permettre la multiplication des échanges.


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

[Marketing Medium] Live Event with MEP Svenja Hahn

MEP Svenja Hahn says: “Artificial Intelligence plays an increasing role in our everyday lives. AI technology has a vast potential for innovation and progress, from the use of screening systems in the health sector to self-driving vehicles. I am convinced that these new technologies will offer benefits to European businesses and consumers alike. As lawmakers in the European Parliament, our task is to close loopholes in the current European legislation and respond to legal challenges that might arise with AI applications. Only when the legal framework is fit for the digital age, we can tap the full potential of AI for citizens and the EU’s Digital Single Market. In this regard, it is of utmost importance not to over-regulate, to avoid red tape, and to provide for legal certainty for businesses, investors, and consumers.”

source http://meltwater.pressify.io/publication/5ebd64a21abdb9000474ae71/5aa837df2542970e001981f6

[Marketing Medium] Live Event with MEP Svenja Hahn

MEP Svenja Hahn says: “Artificial Intelligence plays an increasing role in our everyday lives. AI technology has a vast potential for innovation and progress, from the use of screening systems in the health sector to self-driving vehicles. I am convinced that these new technologies will offer benefits to European businesses and consumers alike. As lawmakers in the European Parliament, our task is to close loopholes in the current European legislation and respond to legal challenges that might arise with AI applications. Only when the legal framework is fit for the digital age, we can tap the full potential of AI for citizens and the EU’s Digital Single Market. In this regard, it is of utmost importance not to over-regulate, to avoid red tape, and to provide for legal certainty for businesses, investors, and consumers.”

from Consumer Choice Center https://ift.tt/2zCMJsR

Liberar entrega de maconha no Canadá pós-pandemia ajudará a combater o comércio ilegal

Tornar a entrega de Cannabis permanente e não temporária seria um grande passo em frente para o mercado jurídico.

Uma das maiores críticas à legalização canadense da Cannabis é que suas regras complicadas e opções limitadas de varejo não podem competir com o mercado clandestino. O que ajudaria? Permitir que as entregas de Cannabis aos varejistas continuem após a pandemia.

Também melhoraria bastante o sistema de entrega monopolizado que existia antes do Covid-19 afrouxar alguns regulamentos de distribuição. Por exemplo, antes da pandemia, a Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) era incapaz de fazer a entrega no mesmo dia via Canada Post . Quando o OCS tentou oferecer a entrega no mesmo dia contratando um serviço de terceiros, o varejista on-line provincial só poderia oferecê-lo para selecionar áreas e logo interrompeu a opção por causa da alta demanda.

A medida temporária que permite o recolhimento na calçada e a entrega em domicílio pelos varejistas não é perfeita e como em qualquer política do governo, o percalço está nos detalhes.

Por um lado, há uma disposição de que o entregador deve ser um funcionário do varejista. Essa é uma restrição desnecessária que limita significativamente a expansão. Os varejistas não estão equipados com capital nem conhecimento para operar uma frota de veículos. Isto se destaca quando a demanda aumenta. Eles devem ser capazes de contratar esse serviço como qualquer outra empresa.

Em segundo lugar, o governo Ford deve permitir que serviços de terceiros sejam usados por revendedores licenciados, sem a necessidade de uma licença para essa função. Tudo o que Ontário precisa fazer é seguir o exemplo de Manitoba, que permite isso. Fazer essa alteração oferecerá benefício ao consumidor, permitindo que empresas de serviços de tecnologia entrem no mercado, dando aos varejistas legais uma vantagem sobre o mercado ilegal.

Eliminar a necessidade de funcionários e permitir que empresas de tecnologia não licenciadas atendam às lojas expande as opções que os varejistas têm para levar produtos aos clientes. Eles poderiam terceirizar completamente sua entrega por meio de terceiros com uma licença de entrega de maconha ou trabalhar com outros aplicativos de entrega, como os restaurantes.

A província pode exigir que os motoristas não licenciados tenham seu certificado CannSell, que é semelhante ao Smart Serve para álcool. O CannSell custa US$ 64,99 e forneceria aos motoristas o conhecimento necessário para detectar deficiências e proteger o acesso a menores.

Para a implantação, a província poderá legalizar esse tipo de entrega amanhã e conceder aos motoristas um período de carência de 30 dias para concluir o CannSell. Quando a província anunciou que os restaurantes podiam entregar álcool com pedidos de comida, eles fizeram exatamente isso, dando aos motoristas de entrega de comida um mês para obter o Certificado de Serviço Inteligente.

Tornar a entrega de Cannabis permanente e não temporária seria um grande passo em frente para o mercado jurídico em Ontário. Isso beneficiaria significativamente os varejistas. Mais importante, porém, beneficiaria os consumidores ao expandir e aprimorar suas opções.


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

Modern agriculture is actively under threat – we need to save it

Mycotoxins represent an active and palpable threat to the health of consumers, with millions affected particularly in developing nations. The open hostility towards certain crop protection measures has emphasised this problem, as fungicides are coming under fire. The scientific method and consumer health should be the metrics of public agricultural policy.

We’ve come a long way from how our ancestors produced and prepared food.

Mechanisation, agricultural intensification, synthetic fertilisers, and even drones are now part of modern farming. This allows us to feed billions on a daily basis.

But with the emergence of the mass-production of food came its opponents, often environmentalists unhappy with resource use, animal use, or consumerism. Picture traveling back in time and explaining to people that there will be a world in which average people can actually afford fresh vegetables and refrigerated meat, which is available at all times but there are simultaneously people who oppose this immense progress and want to deprive others of its wonders.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being nostalgic. Even today, there are farming initiatives that promote and practice “peasant farming”, and live off their own production in a commune. No harm done, the world economy and developing nations will remain untouched by this first-world luxury.

That said, environmentalists have gone far beyond the realm of romanticising the old days: they have set their eyes on implementing it by force, if necessary through distorting reality.

A vast network of organisations, including known players such as Greenpeace, are throwing a myriad of unscientific publications at the wall in different European countries, in the attempt to find out what sticks. Their latest target is fungicides.

Fungicides are used to fight fungus spores, which if carried from the outside of the plant to their inside, are dangerous to human health. These molds produce mycotoxins, which are toxic metabolites.

Mycotoxins are divided into subcategories, namely aflatoxins, ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisins (FUM), zearalenone (ZEN), and deoxynivalenol (DON – also known as vomitoxin), which can all be ingested through eating contaminated food, including dairy products (as infected animals can carry it into milk, eggs, or meat).

The most dangerous kinds are aflatoxins, which can affect corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, peanuts, and tree nuts, and can cause cancer. Most disconcertingly, up to 28% of all liver cancer can be attributed to aflatoxins, and its immunosuppressant features leave humans weakened against other diseases.

In Africa, this is a deadly epidemic. Aflatoxin exposure is more deadly than exposure to malaria or tuberculosis, with 40% of all liver cancers in Africa being related to it. Mycotoxin contamination can occur through inadequate food storage, but more importantly it occurs in absence of the correct crop protection measures, including chemicals.

As a result of mycotoxins, food products are prevented from entering Europe, and Africa loses millions in unusable food every year.

However, this is not only an issue in Africa. According to 2017 data, Europe is also at severe risk of mycotoxin contamination. A 10-year survey conducted by the BIOMIN research centre in Austria found that approximately 20% of Central European grain feed and almost 12% of Southern Europe’s grain feed exceeded EU regulatory limits.

In 2013, France requested to have its maize samples exempted from EU regulation on mycotoxins, because its harvest would have been largely unusable. The 2018 data showed 6% of field and 15% of French silo maize samples were contaminated with aflatoxins.

The European Union, as well as national food safety authorities, have authorised a dozen of SDHI fungicides, which fight mycotoxins, and have been re-confirmed as safe as recently as last year.

On the other side of the argument, environmentalists rely on the results presented by a handful of French researchers, presented in 2018 in a non-peer reviewed publication by the name of bioRxiv. Their claims: SDHI fungicides can cause rare cancers and neurological impairments, and the current toxicological reports are inaccurate.

The French Authority for Food Safety (ANSES) released a report which debunked those claims. The agency found no basis for the publication’s claims, explaining that SDHIs are rapidly metabolised and eliminated from the body and that despite these fungicides having been on the market for a long time, that no scientific evidence points towards adverse effects to human health or the environment.

Despite attacks on the integrity of ANSES (which had offered both dialogue and publishing all of its SDHI data available for review), these activists have not presented further evidence for their theory. This hasn’t prevented environmentalist groups from demanding the ban of all fungicides, and an extreme pivot to a form of agriculture that shuns any and all biotechnology.

If they prove successful in banning SDHIs in France, these same activists would take their quest to the next level: the European Union. A long battle would ensue over the future of conventional agriculture, and there is no doubt that facts will be distorted and bogus science will rise to the surface.

But we cannot let it go that far. Food security and the health of consumers are at stake. If the argument is that genetic engineering provides cheaper and better ways to fight insects and mycotoxins, then that is a valid scientific argument that ought to be supported.

However, environmentalists have shown little openness to new breeding technologies, and in turn endorse “agroecology”, or peasant farming. Our ancestors would be rightfully horrified at the thought of that happening. We need to make reasoned arguments in favour of the scientific method to prevent that from happening. It’s the only way we can keep the future from becoming the past.

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

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