Day: June 7, 2022

EU’s green agenda and PFAS ban are incompatible

As part of the climate agenda, the European Union and member states have advocated the phasing out of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. The goal is to have at least 30 million electric vehicles on European roads by 2030, which would be a 2900% increase from the current amount. With demand for electric vehicles soaring in the EU, domestic industries are looking for innovative ways to establish supply chains for batteries and other components.

On the one hand, the EU seeks to boost the market for electric vehicles to achieve its climate targets. On the other hand, the proposed blanket PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) ban, pledged by the European Commission, will make it impossible to manufacture EVs in the EU.

PFAS are key to the production of EVs. However, instead of considering the spillover effects of banning over 4000 chemicals that carry individual risks, the EU decided to take the same approach as the US move towards banning all of them. In the US, the PFAS Action Act which would heavily restrict all these substances is awaiting the final decision in the Senate. Both the EU and US are on the verge of making the same policy mistake that will achieve nothing except make consumer products more expensive and hinder innovation.

PFAS are used to produce life-saving medical equipment and are vital for contamination-resistant gowns, implantable medical devices, heart patches, etc. These chemicals are also widely used in green technology production. In particular, solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries.

Fluoropolymers (one specific class of PFAS) are an essential part of green technology. Fluoropolymers are used to produce lithium batteries, the power source behind electric vehicles. They are durable, heat and chemical resistant, and have superior dielectric properties, all of these qualities make it hard for other chemicals to compete. If PFAS are banned as a class, the green ambitions of switching to electric vehicles would be extremely difficult to turn into policy. The blanket PFAS ban would cause further disruptions in the EV supply chain, increasing costs for consumers and ultimately making them less attractive as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.

Fluoropolymers are also used in coating and sealing solar panels and wind turbines that protect against harsh weather conditions. Fluoropolymers provide safety by preventing leaks and environmental releases in a range of renewable energy applications. The unique characteristics of PFAS such as water, acid, and oil resistance make these substances hard to replace.

Unless damaged, solar panels continue to produce energy beyond their lifeline. Fluoropolymers are what make solar panels durable. Going solar requires significant investments and without fluoropolymers, the risk of producing and installing them will increase, and production shortages will follow. This is exactly what is currently happening in Europe with microchips, which rely on PFAS in the production process. The closing of a plant in Belgium has left semiconductor manufacturers on the verge of serious production delays.

That is not to say that PFAS are risk-free. A 2021 study by Australian National University confirms that the PFAS exposure does carry some risk, but that most exposure comes from contaminated water. If EU regulators really want to make a difference, their legislation should focus on regulating PFAS from a clean water approach, as opposed to a full ban that comes with a long list of externalities.

The proposed ban is also problematic because fundamentally it won’t drive down demand for PFAS. Banning will shift production to countries like China, where environmental considerations are nearly non-existent. As a result, European regulators will be giving China the upper hand for both EV battery production, solar panels, and semiconductors. Not to mention, banning a substance that is key to so many production processes will magnify the damage caused by inflation. For European EV and solar panels producers, the PFAS ban will be a huge hurdle that is extremely difficult to overcome.

If the European Union is really as determined to pursue a transition to EVs as they suggest, the PFAS blanket ban should be called off. Instead, PFAS should be assessed individually and where poor production processes result in water contamination, the government should intervene.

Originally published here

What the US can learn from Europe’s war-induced food crisis

Lift the sanctions on Russia, and we’ll allow for Ukraine to export its food: that was the message that Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko passed on to its European counterparts recently. Moscow has been responsible for blocking Ukrainian transport ships carrying grain from passage through the Black Sea. Around 24 million metric tons of wheat and maize are currently unable to leave the country as prices are exploding. Wheat prices have jumped, now double compared to last year, while maize prices have gone up by 82 percent.

As Europe scrambles to find food imports from other trade partners — Russia being sanctioned and Ukraine unable to export — lawmakers are divided over the steps forward. In fact, the European Union had been discussing a comprehensive reform to its agricultural system through the so-called “Farm to Fork” plans. This roadmap seeks to reduce farmland by 10 percent, cut pesticide use in half, and increase organic farming to a fourth of the overall farmland use, up from the current 8 percent. Farmer representatives had been critical of the plans, and USDA published an impact assessment showing that the reforms would lead to a reduction in GDP between 7 and 12 percent. However, politicians in Brussels insisted that the plans were needed for the sake of the bloc’s carbon dioxide emission reduction targets.

Now that the war in Ukraine rages on longer than anyone expected, the tide is turning.

Both the European Parliament’s largest parliamentary group and France’s President Emmanuel Macron have made it clear that “Farm to Fork” comes at the wrong time and that in wartime Europe cannot afford the ambitious reforms. On top of that comes the pressure from Brexit Britain: England just introduced legislation that would legalize gene-editing in food production, in what is by far the most significant divergence from EU legislation since the exit. An adviser to the UK’s environment department said that this would have numerous benefits, from building crops that are more resistant to the climate crisis, pests and diseases to increasing crop yields, which could help to combat global hunger. All these factors are not just crucial in the long run but can also help the country weather food supply chain disruptions such as those created by the war in Ukraine.

This comes at a time when scientists just developed a gene-edited tomato that boosts vitamin D levels. Between 13 and 19 percent of Britons have a low vitamin D count, making innovations such as these essential.

Lawmakers in the United States have, in the past, attempted to copy European Union food regulations. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA), supported by lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would copy-paste EU food regulations into federal law. This piece of legislation, which could be approved by Democrats, would undermine the entire American food system as we know it. The United States has always preferred innovation over a hawkish approach to the precautionary principle, which is why, in contrast to Europe, it has assured that food is readily available and affordable. In 2020, Americans spent 5 percent of their disposable income on groceries, compared to 8.7 percent in Ireland (the lowest in the EU), 10.8 percent in Germany, 12 percent in Sweden, 17 percent in Hungary and 25 percent in Romania.

On the worldwide scale of food production, the United States has already fallen behind China and India. Both countries’ stake in food exports is negligible compared to the overall domestic production. However, unburdened by the increasing restrictions on modern agriculture, they could soon increase the economic competition in international food markets. China is already the leading trading partner for an increased number of countries in the world, particularly in developing nations.

The United States cannot afford to fall behind in the world food trade and should guarantee its competitive edge to support its allies in times of crisis.

Originally published here

EU Chemical Policy Could Undermine Semiconductor Manufacturing Efforts

A new report published by the Consumer Choice Center highlights how heavy handed chemical policy could undermine Europe’s efforts for semiconductor manufacturing.

The Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement, co-author of the report explained, “In February the EU announced the European Chips Act, with the goal of increasing supply chain resilience and boosting domestic production from 9% to 20% by 2030. Unfortunately, if the EU gives in to efforts calling for a ban, or phase out of PFAS, the goals of the Chips Act will be impossible to achieve.”

“PFAS, a grouping of 4000+ man-made chemicals, are vital for the production of semiconductors. If the EU seeks to ban their use then increasing domestic chip manufacturing will be incredibly difficult. Europe will ultimately end up failing to meet it’s chip production goals, or it will become almost entirely dependent on China for these chemicals. Both of these scenarios are problematic. If the EU is serious about increasing domestic chip production they have to also work to secure the key inputs involved in the production process, and PFAS are one of those key inputs.” said Clement

“In fact, we know that this is what will happen if the EU opts for a phase out. This is exactly what happened when Belgium paused production at a PFAS chemical plant in response to the tightening of environmental regulations. Reporting done by Business Korea highlighted that semiconductor producers have only 30 to 90 days of coolant inventory left before they will encounter serious production problems.” said Clement

“A clean drinking water approach to PFAS is entirely appropriate, but getting there cannot, and should not, result in outright production bans. If the EU can narrow its sights on proper production processes to avoid water contamination, they can protect European citizens without the chaos of an exacerbated semiconductor shortage,” said Clement.

Originally published here

The demand continues – will supply ever catch up?

In April, the Canadian federal government announced its budget for 2022 with a much-needed focus on building homes over the next decade. Initiatives in the proposal included the launch of a new Housing Accelerator Fund of $4 billion to aid in speeding up housing development, which highlights the obvious demand for homes in this country.

Canada led the G7 in percentage population growth over the last five years (the 5.2% population growth is double that of the United States’ 2.6%). Canada added 1.8 million citizens between 2016-2021 and the federal government has plans to welcome 1.3 million immigrants over the next three years. This population growth is being achieved against the backdrop of a chronic housing supply shortage.  It was reported this year by Consumer Choice Centre that among the G7, Canada has the lowest average housing supply per capita with only 424 units per 1,000 people nationally, a ratio that is lower than it was five years ago. Of all the provinces, Ontario leads this disparity with only 398 units per 1,000 people – requiring 650,000 units to be built just to meet the national average.

With the recent increase in interest rates and construction cost inflation, some developers are taking a pause on launching new products, which will only exacerbate the supply imbalance and contribute to upward pressure on prices in the coming years. Whether for rent or for sale, Canada needs to build more houses, and quickly.

Read the full article here


Si les aides étatiques sans limites ont bénéficié à certaines entreprises, d’autres ont totalement été mises de côté… ce qui pose la question d’une concurrence déloyale, par exemple dans le secteur du transport aérien. 

La compagnie aérienne low-cost Ryanair a passé la majeure partie des deux dernières années à s’attaquer à des cas d’aides d’Etat dans toute l’Europe. La compagnie aérienne estime que les aides gouvernementales accordées aux transporteurs nationaux pendant la pandémie de Covid-19 étaient injustifiées et créaient des avantages concurrentiels injustes.

Avant de commencer, il convient de noter deux choses : tout d’abord, je conçois que de nombreux lecteurs aient pu avoir des expériences négatives avec les compagnies aériennes mentionnées. En tant que grand voyageur moi-même, il m’est arrivé à plusieurs reprises d’être retardé, de rester bloqué dans des aéroports éloignés et d’être totalement ignoré par le service clientèle.

C’est une réalité malheureuse des voyages aériens – parfois pour des raisons météorologiques, parfois à cause de la négligence totale de la compagnie aérienne – mais je ne laisse pas cela influencer mon jugement lorsque j’écris sur les relations louches du gouvernement avec le secteur aérien.

Deuxièmement, pour ceux qui ont lu mon précédent article sur la question de l’aviation : si je pense que le secteur est souvent injustement réglementé et taxé par le gouvernement (comme nous le sommes tous), cela n’exonère pas les grandes entreprises.

En fait, de nombreuses grandes entreprises recherchent spécifiquement des subventions gouvernementales et font pression pour obtenir des politiques désavantageuses pour leurs concurrents. Ryanair elle-même a bénéficié pendant très longtemps de subventions gouvernementales pour les aéroports régionaux en Europe, ce qui lui a permis de proposer des tarifs inférieurs au prix du marché conventionnel.

Des dizaines de milliards pour quelques entreprises

Toutefois (je me rends compte que c’est un grand « toutefois »), la compagnie aérienne irlandaise a tout à fait raison dans son analyse des cas d’aides d’État.

Les contribuables européens ont ainsi payé plus de 30 Mds€ pour soutenir des compagnies aériennes durant la pandémie… Cliquez ici pour lire la suite.

Lufthansa : 9 Mds€. Air France : 4 Mds€. British Airways : 2,5 Mds€. Alitalia : faillite complète (après les sauvetages gouvernementaux des années précédentes) et reprise par l’Etat. Les contribuables européens ont payé pour ces aides, soit directement, soit par le biais de l’inflation provoquée par l’utilisation délibérée de la planche à billets par la banque centrale.

Ryanair conteste 30 Mds€ de ces fonds, en s’appuyant sur le principe juridique de l’Union européenne qui interdit les subventions publiques si elles faussent la concurrence loyale dans l’union. Dans certains cas, notamment ceux de la compagnie aérienne publique portugaise TAP et de la compagnie néerlandaise KLM, la Cour européenne de justice de Luxembourg a estimé que les gouvernements néerlandais et portugais n’avaient pas suffisamment justifié les mesures d’aide.

Toutefois, la Cour n’a pas exigé des compagnies aériennes qu’elles remboursent les prêts « pour l’instant ». Comparez cela à la façon dont les particuliers sont traités lorsqu’ils doivent de l’argent à l’Etat… Malheureusement, dans de nombreux cas, le tribunal de l’UE rejette les affaires engagées par Ryanair en se basant sur le fait que Covid-19 représentait une urgence extraordinaire pour ces compagnies aériennes.

La compagnie irlandaise à bas prix poursuit également des compagnies aériennes, telles que la TAP, pour conserver leurs créneaux horaires dans les aéroports. Les créneaux aéroportuaires en Europe sont organisés selon les règles du « use it or lose it ».

En pratique, si une compagnie aérienne ne dessert pas une certaine route, elle peut ainsi perdre le droit à la connexion, et l’aéroport peut donner le créneau à un concurrent. Cela explique pourquoi, tout au long de cette pandémie, certaines compagnies ont fait voler des avions vides entre certaines destinations… simplement pour conserver leurs créneaux.

Pour contrer cet effet, l’UE a décidé d’exempter temporairement les règles relatives aux créneaux horaires, ce qui a permis aux grandes compagnies aériennes de conserver leurs créneaux et de ne pas les donner à leurs concurrents. De façon perverse, ces compagnies aériennes ont utilisé l’argent des contribuables pour faire pression en faveur de leur avantage concurrentiel, dans les aéroports de tout le continent.

Des difficultés avant le Covid

Voici pourquoi Ryanair a raison : même si les Etats européens n’avaient pas introduit les confinements, le Covid-19 aurait tout de même eu un effet sur le secteur de l’aviation. En effet, dès avril 2020, les compagnies aériennes étaient en difficulté financière. Si des compagnies établies qui opèrent depuis des décennies sont incapables de faire face à une réduction temporaire des tarifs passagers, se pourrait-il qu’elles ne devraient pas opérer sur le marché en premier lieu, et que de nouvelles compagnies améliorent les erreurs commises par leurs prédécesseurs ?

Ryanair est la plus grande compagnie aérienne d’Europe, et bien qu’elle ait reçu du gouvernement irlandais des fonds reliés au Covid, ses aides sont dérisoires par rapport à l’argent empoché par une compagnie comme Lufthansa, qui exploite un réseau de compagnies qui ont toutes reçu des sommes importantes des contribuables autrichiens, suisses ou belges.

Les compagnies aériennes devraient se faire concurrence sur un marché véritablement libre. Oui, elles devraient être exemptes de taxes et de réglementations punitives, mais elles ne devraient pas non plus attendre des contribuables qu’ils paient la facture de leur mauvaise gestion. Lorsque les Européens ont payé pour l’aide Covid, ils ont souvent aussi financé la mauvaise gestion de ces compagnies, comme des acquisitions mal calculées et des projets secondaires.

L’exemple de la compagnie allemande Condor vient à l’esprit (qui a également été attaquée en justice par RyanAir, sans succès) : en septembre 2019, la société mère de Condor, Thomas Cook, s’est effondrée, et pourtant Condor a reçu un prêt du gouvernement allemand pour la sauver de la ruine financière. Maintenant que Condor a reçu une aide d’Etat pendant la crise du Covid-19, juste un an plus tard, l’Etat allemand peut-il démontrer de manière fiable que les dommages subis par la compagnie ne sont dus qu’à la pandémie, ou se pourrait-il que la compagnie aérienne ait déjà fait faillite auparavant ?

Et dans quelle mesure l’aide liée au Covid est-elle justifiée, alors que l’entreprise venait juste de bénéficier d’un prêt pour surmonter la tourmente de l’année précédente ?

Il semble que de nombreux Etats européens financent des compagnies aériennes pour des raisons nationalistes. Le gouvernement allemand, comme tout autre, veut garder les compagnies à l’intérieur de ses frontières, afin qu’elles continuent à payer des impôts dans les caisses du Trésor public. Mais les seuls qui paient réellement les factures sont les consommateurs, et pas seulement par le biais du prix des billets.

Nous devrions plutôt laisser les mauvais acteurs échouer et permettre plus d’innovation et de flexibilité sur le marché européen de l’aviation.

Originally published here

Malaysia Towards A Vape Regulated Nation

Big Industry players are acknowledging that vaping is not risk-free, but there is growing scientific evidence that it is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Risk-proportionate regulations and taxation for vaping are being called to encourage smokers to switch to a low-risk alternative. With the Malaysian Government introducing a taxation on nicotine vapes, many in the vaping industry are exhaling a sigh of relief as the grey line lingering over nicotine taxation has loomed for the longest time. 

In relation to that, the public are commending the Malaysian government for moving in the right direction of regulating it instead of an outright ban, as vaping products play a crucial role in reducing the enormous health burden caused by cigarette smoking.

Malaysia towards regulating vape products 

The aftermath of banning vaping will only open doors for the prevalence of the black market, which poses the danger of owning and inhaling substandard products. With nicotine vapes being legal for sale and consumption, the lack of regulation needs to be addressed to prevent consumers from falling prey to black market products, perceiving netizens who are forthrightly switching to vaping as a choice. 

It is in the best interest of the nation to quickly roll out proper regulations to benefit the Malaysian economy as it could lose an estimated RM1 billion tax revenue from vape products alone, being too substantial to remain unregulated. 

Read the full article here

Pentingnya Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual untuk Industri Kuliner di Indonesia

Indonesia dikenal sebagai salah satu negara dengan kekayaan kuliner yang sangat beragam. Dengan wilayah yang luas dan suku yang sangat beragam membuat berbagai wilayah di Indonesia memiliki ciri khas kulinernya masing-masing, yang sangat bervariasi satu sama lain.

Tidak hanya makanan yang bervariasi, industri kuliner di Indonesia juga merupakan salah satu bidang usaha yang sangat umum, yang dapat kita temui di berbagai kota hingga perdesaan di seluruh nusantara. Bila kita mendatangi berbagai pusat perbelanjaan, tempa wisata, hingga gedung-gedung perkantoran, dengan mudah kita bisa menemukan berbagai pedagang yang menjual berbagai hidangan yang sangat bervariatif.

Pada tahun 2019 misalnya, berdasarkan laporan dari Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), ada sekitar 3,9 juga usaha mikro dan kecil di Indonesia yang bergerak di industri kuliner (databoks.katadata.co.id, 23/8/2021). Angka ini tentu merupakan jumlah yang tidak kecil, dan merupakan bukti bawa industri kuliner merupakan sektor yang memiliki pengaruh yang sangat besar sebagai sumber penghidupan bagi jutaan orang di Indonesia.

Melalui angka yang sangat tinggi ini kita bisa melihat bahwa industri kuliner di Indonesia memiliki modal dan potensi yang sangat luar biasa untuk dikembangkan. Bila dikembangkan secara maksimum, industri kuliner di Indonesia tentu dapat memri sumbangsih yang besar untuk meningkatkan kesejahteraan di Indonesia, dan juga semakin memperkenalkan nama negara kita di dunia internasional.

Untuk melakukan hal tersebut tentu merupakan sesuatu yang tidak mudah. Ada sangat berbagai proses yang harus dijalankan dan juga regulasi yang perlu dicanangkan. Hal ini tentunya meliputi berbagai aspek, mulai dari pendanaan, hingga bagaimana kita bisa membantu memberikan pelatihan usaha kepada para pemilik usaha kuliner yang tersebar di seluruh Indonesia.

Salah satu regulasi yang sangat penting misalnya, yang terkait dengan kemudahan berusaha. Tentunya bila pemerintah memberlakukan regulasi yang sangat ketat kepada para pemilik usaha kuliner, seperti perizinan yang ketat dan lain sebagainya, hal tersbeut akan semakin mempersulit para pemilik usaha tersebut untuk mengembangkan usaha yang sedang dikerjakannya.

Selain itu, tidak hanya kemudahan berusaha, kita juga harus bisa memastikan para pemilik usaha kuliner tersebut dapat memiliki kesempatan untuk bisa mendapatkan manfaat finansial secara penuh dari inovasi yang dibuatnya, terhadap produk-produk yang ia jual. Di sini lah, perlindungan kekayaan intelektual menjadi hal yang sangat penting untuk diperhatikan.

Hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan hal yang sangat penting dan esensial untuk dijaga dan ditegakkan, apalagi bila terkait dengan industri kreatif, salah satunya adalah industri kuliner. Melalui jaminan perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang kuat, para pelaku usaha kuliner di Indonesia bisa lebih mampu untuk menikmati manfaat finansial dari karya dan inovasi yang mereka buat.

Beberapa jenis hak kekayaan intelektual yang akan sangat membantu para pelaku usaha industri kreatif sektor kuliner adalah desain industri, rahasia dagang merek atau brand. 

Desain industri sendiri didefinisikan sebagai sebuah kreasi tentang bentuk, komposisi garis dan warna, konfigurasi, yang memberikan kesan estetik pada produk tersebut (hakpaten.id). Berbagai produk-produk kuliner di Indonesia memiliki desain yang berbeda-beda dan khas, yang membedakan produk tersebut dengan produk-produk lainnya.

Sementara itu, merek atau brand didefinisikan sebagai tanda untuk membedakan jasa atau barang yang diproduksi oleh produsen dalam perdagangan (hakpaten.id). 

Merek atau brand merupakan kekayaan intelektual yang paling umum yang digunakan oleh berbagai sektor usaha, termasuk juga tetunya adalah sektor kuliner. Merek ini digunakan untuk membedakan berbagai produk yang dijual oleh para produsen di pasar, misalnya seperti produk ayam gorang A dan ayam goreng B.

Rahasia dagang sendiri didefinisikan sebagai kekayaan intelektual yang berbentuk informasi eksklusif yang memiliki nilai ekonomis yang tidak diungkapkan kepada publik dan tidak diketahui secara umum (viva.co.id, 2/5/2017). Hal ini merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk dilindungi mengingat bahwa dibutuhkan yang keras dan kreativitas yang tidak mudah untuk para pelaku usaha tersebut untuk bisa menemukan resep yang dapat digandrungi oleh para konsumen.

Tetapi sayangnya, penegakan hukum untuk melindungi hak kekayaan intelektual pada aspek tersebut masih memiliki banyak kelemahan di Indonesia. 

Misalnya, kita bisa melihat dengan mudah berbagai rumah makan dan juga desain-desain produk yang menyerupai desain dan brand yang dimiliki oleh badan usaha lain yang lebih teranma. Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang tidak bisa dibenarkan, karena merupakan bentuk pencurian ide, yang tentunya berpotensi akan sangat merugikan perusahaan yang memiliki hak kekayaan intelektual tersebut.

Bila kita dapat memiliki perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang kuat, khususnya untuk industri kuliner di Indonesia, maka hal tersebut akan semakin mendorong insentif untuk berinovasi, karena mereka bisa mendapatkan jaminan untuk mendapatkan manfaat ekonomi dari inovasi yang dibuatnya. 

Selain itu, para pelaku usaha juga tidak bisa dengan mudah membajak dan mencuri karya dan inovasi yang dimiliki oleh orang lain untuk mendapatkan keuntungan.

Originally published here

Harm reduction strategy stressed to achieve Tobacco-free nation by 2040

Speakers in a discussion have urged policymakers to incorporate Tobacco harm reduction strategy in their tobacco control plans and establish safer alternatives such as vaping products as smoking cessation medium like progressive nations around the world.

Voice of Vapers Bangladesh organised the discussion titled “The Need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction Strategy: Achieving the Government’s Health Agenda & Revenue Ambitions” at a Dhaka hotel on Saturday to mark the World Vape Day 2022.

Health Diplomats’ president Dr Delon Human said that Bangladesh was widely recognized as a resilient nation, known for her prowess to prove her critics wrong.

Read the full article here

TRIPS waiver will cost us decades of progress

By removing patent protection, crucial incentives to develop new ground-breaking innovations will be lost.

The COVID-19 pandemic, economic disruption, war in Ukraine, global hunger, and now monkeypox… With all these crises, one might say that the future of humanity looks grim. That would probably be true if we didn’t have innovation and intellectual property rights.

It doesn’t take a degree in history to understand that, despite many challenges, the world is improving. HIV and AIDS treatment has prevented millions of premature deaths. Cancer survival rates have improved by almost 20 percent since 1986. The COVID-19 vaccines, developed almost overnight, are already saving thousands of lives in Europe and beyond.

We have made significant progress in boosting vaccine accessibility. AstraZeneca is selling its vaccines to developing countries at cost price, and many developed countries have donated their vaccines to those in need. Even though a lot more could be done to increase access to COVID–19 vaccines, waiving patents is not a solution we can afford.

Right now, the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s member states are discussing a draft agreement on TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) flexibility to waive intellectual property protections. South Africa and India initiated the TRIPS waiver in 2020. Despite initial resistance from the EU and US, the compromise now seems in sight.

If adopted, the agreement would legalise compulsory licencing, a practice that allows the government to hand out the right to produce COVID-19 vaccines without the consent of a patent owner. On paper, allowing for the mass production of vaccines seems like a noble goal, but the consequences of such a policy are anything but promising. The short-term result of eroding intellectual property rights would be increased access to innovations. In the long-term, there would be no innovation.

While the current TRIPS waiver talks primarily concern COVID-19 vaccines, there is a worry that these flexibilities will become a norm or be misused once adopted. That was, for example, the case in Thailand, where compulsory licencing was introduced to treat non-infectious chronic diseases.

The move didn’t end well for Thailand. Abbott, one of the manufacturers whose drugs were targeted by the IP waiver, withdrew all of its patents from Thailand. After a series of negotiations, Abbott agreed to increase access to its drugs in exchange for IP protection. Back then, the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson warned Thailand that compulsory licencing would hinder pharmaceutical innovation. Now, it seems like the EU, especially the Left, has forgotten this lesson.

“While the TRIPS waiver seems like a quick fix, the consequences of such a move will be dire”

Innovation takes time and effort, and crucially, investment. Pharmaceutical development usually involves biological, chemical, and clinical research and can take up to 15 years to complete. Only a tiny fraction of these efforts leads to the creation of a ground-breaking cure. It is moral and right for these companies to expect their risk-taking and investment to pay off through patents. By undermining IP protection, the TRIPS waiver would remove these incentives and endanger drug safety. Without patents, third-party suppliers will make vaccine shots based on patented formulas and processes. Still, without specialisation, this will increase the risk of producing bad, inactive vaccines that will undermine vaccination in general.

While the TRIPS waiver seems like a quick fix, the consequences of such a move will be dire. We have too many challenges ahead of us, and millions in Europe and beyond still await life-saving Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, or HIV/AIDS treatment. If we scrap patent protection now, all the progress we have made as a society and countless opportunities to improve the world will be lost.

Originally published here

Speakers stress need for tobacco harm reduction strategy 

They call for sensible regulations for vaping products to achieve government’s health agenda and revenue ambitions

Speakers at an event urged policymakers to incorporate Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategy in their tobacco control plans and establish safer alternatives such as vaping products as smoking cessation medium like progressive nations around the world. 

To commemorate World Vape Day 2022, Voice of Vapers Bangladesh organised a panel discussion titled “The Need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction Strategy: Achieving the Government’s Health Agenda & Revenue Ambitions” held at a Dhaka hotel on 28 May, reads a press release.

Dr Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats and an expert on harm reduction said, “Bangladesh is widely recognised as a resilient nation, known for her prowess to prove her critics wrong. Historically, the indomitable spirit of Bangladeshis has made them question the status quo and establish the rights of its people. The stupendous development across all sectors is a true testament of that.” 

Read the full article here

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