Day: May 15, 2023


It may surprise those who need to become more familiar with how politics works in Hungary. Still, it is just business as usual for those familiar with the government’s stand on policy issues.

Whenever opposition members of parliament raise a sensible policy issue, the Hungarian government finds a way to either discredit the MP, shove the topic off the table, or completely disregard the issue. This was no different when László Lukács, the party group leader of Jobbik-Conservatives, asked the Minister of the Interior a question about revisiting the regulation regarding e-cigarettes. (It might be worth another article on what the Minister of the Interior has to do with health issues, but Hungary has not had a Health Ministry since Fidesz took over 13 years ago).

MP Lukács enquired about the possibility of changing the law since it has been in effect for seven years and new scientific evidence has come to light in many countries; people have experienced positive results due to more flexible legislatures and common sense.

But this is Hungary, where many policy issues meet with the arrogance of government officials who disregard facts and only focus on humiliating their colleagues in opposition.

The reply by the State Secretary was relatively straightforward. The Hungarian government considers vaping harmful and would not plan on changing the present legislation: no consideration, no openness to new studies, and no interest in looking at best practices.

The attitude of the State Secretary has shocked Michael Landl, the director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (the guest on our podcastsome months ago), who issued a press release about the official statement presented by the Hungarian government. According to Mr. Landl, “It is shocking that the Hungarian government still pedals worn-out and debunked myths about vaping. Rétvári systematically ignores scientific evidence proving the benefits of vaping, not to mention the first-hand experience of millions of vapers. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and a more effective method to quit smoking than traditional therapies such as gum and nicotine patches. The Hungarian approach to vaping will do nothing but cost lives.” 

The director of the WVA also claims that the statement shows that Hungary ignores science and spreads misinformation about vaping. He says that “This is not a good sign for public health. Vaping is not the same as smoking and must be treated differently. Equating a 95% less harmful alternative with smoking will prevent thousands of smokers from quitting.”

It is worth noting that the Hungarian government disregards Swedish and British examples showing the success of using vaping as a harm reduction tool to give up smoking.  These two countries are experiencing record-low smoking rates and illnesses attributed to smoking, and they provide the world with good examples of switching from smoking to vaping. This, however, falls on deaf ears in the prohibitionist Hungarian government, which would probably also defend witchcraft if its interests required it.

Originally published here

Would Lina Khan’s real-life FTC break up Succession’s fictional Waystar RoyCo?

The truth is often stranger than fiction.

In this season of the hit HBO show Succession , viewers are subjected not just to the business antics of the troubled Roy family but also to politicians and regulatoryagencies using their power to rein in the firm’s activities and acquisitions.

Though it is a work of fiction, the writers obviously take inspiration from the present: a CEO patriarch, a global media empire, anti-corporate populist politicians, and crackdowns from agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

As a thought experiment, how would contemporary regulatory agencies deal with the ascension of the Roy clan and their many businesses? If the latest season is any indication — cue the standard spoiler alert — there would be as much activity in the fictional Roy boardroom as in the halls of the very real FTC.

After the death of the CEO family patriarch Logan Roy, his two sons Kendall and Roman ascend to co-CEO positions at the Waystar RoyCo conglomerate and must deliver (per their father’s wishes) a shaky acquisition of the Swedish tech streaming platform known as GoJo. 

In the show, Waystar is a major corporate behemoth composed of newspapers, video games, publishing, news networks, a film studio, theme parks, a cruise line, a streaming platform, and a telecom company with a less-than-stellar rocket ship launch record.

Even though much of the regulatory heat on the company in previous seasons has been focused on bad behavior regarding its cruise lines, we do see the antitrust hammer wielded by Sen. Gil Eavis, our fictional blend of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). In the show, it’s over whether the company’s national news network should be able to purchase local news stations. This senator wants the government to intervene.

On these facts alone, it’s not a stretch to see how FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan would take significant action against Waystar’s acquisitions.

Her neo-Brandeisian philosophy on antitrust, which aims to dismantle corporate power based on market share and business structure, rather than consumer welfare, would mean Waystar’s actions would certainly get forceful disapproval from the regulator, if not a set of punitive rulemaking to try to slow it down.

The FTC under Khan’s leadership has already attempted to halt several high-profile acquisitions on a much smaller scale: Microsoft’s purchase of video game company Activision and Meta’s acquisition of the VR fitness app Within.

Waystar’s significant holdings would not only be fodder for the Khan FTC but would likely make them the chief antagonist of her entire tenure, much like we see with the various actions, consent decrees, and heightened alert around tech giant Meta and its business dealings.

In the latest season, attention turns to the Swedish streaming giant GoJo — a fictional blend of Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon Prime — and whether the Roy brothers should consider selling off Waystar’s assets to the eccentric tech billionaire Lukas Matsson. The brothers, later unconvinced of the deal, aim to stoke regulatory flames to stall and eventually kill the deal.

In truth, if patterns of the present were applied to the silver screen, the FTC’s focus would be exclusively on GoJo rather than the Roys — either for its acquisition by Waystar or the other way around. 

As an innovative tech company with dozens of products, reach to billions of consumers, and a business model that relies on advertising and partnerships, the fictional GoJo (Swedish or not) would represent everything this current FTC, and most in the Democratic Senate, have sought to quash.

In a lasting bit of irony, Lina Khan’s FTC would likely share the same goals as the fictional billionaire Roy brothers: to destroy the GoJo acquisition and make sure consumers are “protected” from innovative companies trying to get an edge. 

Whether it be the FTC’s proposed hamstringing of AI firms to prevent “ online harm ,” blocking acquisitions of companies that quickly screen cancers or provide healthcare data to insurers, or using left-leaning interpretations of antitrust law to stop mergers that would bring benefits to users of gaming, VR, and social media (Activison, Within, etc.), consumers are being kept from real innovations that would improve their lives. When will consumers have a say?

Originally published here

Biden’s Air Passenger Compensation Scheme Smoke and Mirrors

President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have announced plans that would require airlines to pay compensation to passengers in case of flight disruptions that are within the purview of the airline. The move echoes legislation that has existed in the European Union for almost two decades.

In principle, delay compensation sounds good. If an airline fails to make you arrive on time at your destination out of its own incompetence, compensation will make up for the lost time and incentivize the company to do better in the future. Exemptions such as bad weather conditions make sure that the company isn’t unjustly punished for situations for which it is not responsible.

In fact, American travel influencers are keen to explain online that a delay in Europe can get them easy cash, and passengers can access compensation payments well beyond the actual price of their ticket.

However, EU261, which is the law requiring airlines to compensate passengers for delays, has a set of problems that would also extend to the U.S. if Biden’s plans go ahead. Most importantly, rather than a compensation scheme, you can think of the policy as a mandatory insurance plan.

Insurance companies currently offer trip delay insurance plans that operate on the same baseline as government compensation programs — and private insurance companies, obviously, will charge you for the privilege. If insurance for passengers is made mandatory, airlines will simply offset the increase in cost to ticket prices, stripping the consumer of the choice of flying insured or not.

In 2011, Irish low-cost airline Ryanair added a little over $2 per ticket to cover the cost of the EU’s mandatory flight compensation rules. Given that Ryanair attempts to offer the lowest fares in Europe — and does not fly intercontinental routes on which delays become considerably more expensive to airlines — it is safe to assume that other carriers added more charges to the ticket.

Flight compensation laws are not a benefit the government grants you; it instead, is a mandatory insurance policy you pay for out of pocket. Now you might say that this constitutes a bonus service you didn’t know you needed and that, given the significant delays of many airlines, you would want it anyway.

On that note, take it from a European like myself who has attempted to seek compensation on multiple occasions: You are much better off dealing with competing insurance companies for trip insurance than with the airline itself.

The process for receiving compensation is deliberately made cumbersome by airlines, who bank on the fact that you don’t consider it worth a few hours to fill out forms and send emails to automated customer service addresses to get your money.

In fact, the process is so complicated that a large number of companies in Europe have specialized in doing the job for you. The catch: They take varying commissions for their services, reducing the amount of compensation you are legally entitled to.

What  Buttigieg and Biden should focus on instead is reforming the FAA air traffic control to avoid avalanches of delays that Americans have had to experience in the past. This would positively impact delays without inundating passengers with a swath of paperwork that they do not want to deal with.

Originally published here

Newly proposed EU rules threaten the clean beauty market

New EU rules are coming after scented candles, perfumes, and wellness routines. The clean beauty cosmetics market has grown substantially as more European customers move from synthetic cosmetics to natural replacements. Put into numbers, the sector reached 2.29 billion euros in 2022 and is projected to surpass 3 billion in 2026. This growth is thanks to water or steam extracts called essential oils. Chances are your favorite sustainable make-up includes one of nine-hundred ninety-two such emulsions – some of which are household names like lavender, cinnamon, rose, and sage. If that were not enough, your preferred bio-degradable perfume most likely comes from one of the fragrances essential oils provide. Nevertheless, consumers should worry about the future of the industry. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) wants to move from a risk to a hazard-based assessment of essential oils, leaving the entire business in limbo.

For non-experts, ‘risk’ and ‘hazard’ may sound the same. They are, however, very different ways of thinking about regulation. Hazard assesses the characteristics of a substance alone to arrive at a recommendation; risk, too, looks at the nature of a compound before also considering probabilities and exposure levels. Less abstractly, it’s the difference between judging cars as dangerous per se versus looking at the chances of an accident to decide whether the situation threatens one’s safety.

The consequences of each method are at odds, too. Where hazard will shy away from any material as long as there is even hypothetical proof that it is dangerous, risk assessment accepts that an item may pose a problem only after a certain concentration threshold has been exceeded. Using the same analogy again, it is akin to never hopping into a car out of fear of what could happen on the one hand and deciding to drive after establishing the safest route to go on the other.

The ECHA’s change of heart sees essential oils labeled as dangerous. So long as a single molecule (examined under the right laboratory conditions) becomes an issue, consumers will see a skull and crossbones on the beauty product’s packaging. Buyers then tend (research suggests) to avoid the items on sale.

Producers are consequently in a bind. They could look for alternatives to essential oils, yet most substitutes are already banned under EU regulation 2021/1902. So the option in many cases will be to pull out of the market altogether. As the dominoes fall, shampoos, shower gels, conditioners, foundation make-up, colognes, and deodorants are no longer available. Hazard-based thinking subsequently causes billions of euros in current and future revenue losses and leaves consumers with far fewer options.

The trouble does not end there, though. Several European countries are top producers of essential oils and will take the full brunt of the clean beauty market’s fall. Bulgaria is the world’s champion in rose oil extraction, responsible for distilling almost 2 tonnes of the material annually. Its 92 million euros worth of exports to France and Germany are now in danger. The loss would be another terrible blow to the EU’s poorest nation. France, the world’s third-largest producer of essential oils, sees 458 million euros wiped out thanks to the ECHA’s scheme. Italy is a crucial node in the global supply chain of one emulsion in particular – 95% of all bergamot oil is produced in the southern part of the country by a group of Calabrian families passing down techniques from generation to generation. Interrupting the trade will cost Italy upwards of 174 million euros and disrupt a way of life, all while throwing global trade into chaos.

Hazard cannot, therefore, wish trade-offs away, only worsen them. Giving up on a car will see you stranded when you need one the most; giving up on essential oils throws away valuable products and scuppers an entire business. Policymakers should encourage the ECHA to adopt a risk-based view, judging substances by safe use levels rather than all-or-nothing thinking. Now that is a wellness program all consumers can get behind.

Originally published here

How Russia Props Up Anti-Science Narratives In Agriculture

As the now year-old war in Ukraine continues to unravel, so do the stories revealing the ruthlessness with which the Russian state has not only intervened in political discourse, but also in areas of global public debate. There are those untruths that further the interests of the Kremlin in a palpable geopolitical way: think “Ukraine has a Nazi government” or “the Maidan Revolution was a U.S.-backed coup”. These lies created fertile soil for skepticism of the wide-scale Western support of Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s aggression, sowing distrust in the institutions of liberal democracies.

The Russian modus operandi isn’t only direct misinformation but also false equivalencies. Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in particular, Russia Today (RT) all across Europe have overemphasized protests in European capitals and given voice to commentators who believe that elections are rigged or institutions controlled by a deep state. The audience left with a critical takeaway: ‘if our own government cheats on us, how can we trust them when they call Russia authoritarian?’ 

Fostering mistrust with their governments is one thing, but now they are being led to believe they cannot trust their food either. For decades, the Russian propaganda machine has distorted the views of Americans on GMOs – despite the fact that most scientists agree they are safe for consumption. Research by the Iowa State University Plant Sciences Institute Faculty Scholars Program found that RT and Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik were the most prolific spreaders of misinformation about transgenic organisms. The extent to which both of these “news” outlets portrayed GM crops in a negative light far outperforms even the coverage of American news organizations traditionally skeptical of genetic engineering. In fact, RT and Sputnik produced more articles containing the word “GMO” than Fox News, CNN, Huffington Post, and Breitbart combined. 

In April last year, Russia Today positively mentioned Trump-backed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz for “butting heads with Big Pharma and the GMO food lobby”. The site also regularly hosts conspiracy theorist Vandana Shiva, who denounces how the ‘Poison Cartel’ instigates “totalitarian control over life”. The readers of RT will also hear about how Bill Gates exploits the war in Ukraine to advance genetically modified crops or how ‘gene-edited crops are GMOs with a different name’ (which is scientifically inaccurate).

Russian propagandists are exploiting the fact that agricultural regulations are a highly complex and niche issue that requires sufficient background to fully understand. In fact, those who are the most virulently opposed to GMOs happen to know the least about them

Americans are split over the benefits of modern agricultural technology. Half of the country is of the impression that food additives (including the fact that agro-chemicals and conventional processing methods were used), and to an equal extent, half of the population believes that GM crops are worse for one’s health than foodstuffs for which no genetic engineering was employed.

The sowing of distrust in the institutions regulating the farming system, presenting it as being controlled by large corporations, is key to the narrative of disinformation campaigns. That said, Russia also seeks to gain from the specific regulatory implications of those beliefs. While Russia does have laws on the books restricting the use of GMOs, it does not have specific regulations that govern the use of new gene-editing technology. Europe has based its restrictions on gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 dating back to 2001, a decade before this specific technology came into the spotlight. Gene-editing can be used to enrich crops to give crops the nitrogen they need to grow, thus reducing the amount of synthetic fertilizers. 

In 2022, Russia’s revenues from fertilizer exports increased by 70%, as they are exempt from Western sanctions imposed since the war in Ukraine began. As the European Union seeks to reduce fertilizer imports from Russia in new sanctions packages, it is also working on a rewrite of the 2001 directive to draw the distinction between GMOs and gene-edited crops.

It is important to note that many environmentalists have opposed aspects of modern agricultural practices from ideological perspectives that have little to do with Russian interference. It is ultimately the choice of each consumer to buy organic foodstuffs or locally sourced from agroecological practices if they so choose. A McCarthyist branding of environmentalist reforms as being pro-Russia is neither fair nor productive. Meanwhile, it is equally important to point out that Russia has used some organizations as a vehicle for its economic interests, particularly in energy policy.

According to ae letter sent to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by U.S. representatives Lamar Smith and Randy Weber, Hillary Clinton told a private audience in 2016, “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians …”. Several elements point in this direction. WWF Germany, BUND (Friends of the Earth), and NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), three environmental organizations who were avowed opponents of Germany’s NordStream pipelines with Russia, dropped their opposition after Gazprom promised funding for environmental protection, according to information revealed in 2011. Representatives of European environmental organizations were board members of a multi-million dollar Gazprom-controlled foundation, raising questions about the political objectives of these organizations.

France’s far-right politician Marine Le Pen – herself having received a $10 million loan from a Russian bank – believes that no distinction should be drawn within GM crops, including those derived from gene-editing technology. Other right-wing parties in Europe hold comparably negative views on the authorization of new varieties in Europe.

The arrival of new agricultural technology presents the opportunities of addressing food safety, security, affordability, and sustainability. There are political and economic incentives for the Russian state to distort the scientific reality of those innovations, presenting major difficulties. It holds true that it is always more difficult to make a corrected record mainstream than to spread a lie.

Originally published here

New Florida bill banning CBDCs passes, arguing they’re not money

The Florida legislature passed a bill Wednesday that effectively bans any central bank digital currency (CBDC) from being used in the state. 

The new policy says CBDCs issued by any country will not meet Florida’s definition of money. The provision rejects a specific part of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), a widely adopted piece of model legislation updated by the American Law Institute and the Uniform Law Commission.

Certain 2022 amendments to the UCC have rankled cryptocurrency proponents because they put all privately created crypto outside the legal definition of money. Under the updated meaning, a CBDC is the only type of digital asset that meets the UCC standard.

In March, the Biden administration announced it would assess the benefits and risks of issuing such a currency.

Governor Ron DeSantis responded to this announcement with a plan to ban CBDCs in Florida. The bill passed in both houses of the state legislature with overwhelming majorities and now requires only the governor’s signature to become law.

Read the full text here

Dutch Farmers’ Party Election Win Foreshadows Europe’s Environmental Battles

The Farmer-Citizen Movement, or BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), won big in the recent Dutch provincial elections, raking up a whopping 15 of the 75 seats in the Senate. This makes it the strongest party in the Netherlands’ upper chamber, with the ability to undermine the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The BBB was created in 2019, but it gathered popular support after the government decided to cut nitrogen emissions by closing down about a third of Dutch farms.

Last summer, Dutch farmers protested the government’s planned policy by blocking roads and airports, and throwing manure on government officials. The government in The Hague attempts to follow EU guidelines by slashing nitrogen emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Nitrous oxide and methane emissions are byproducts of livestock, for instance, when manure deposes. 

The Netherlands — along with Denmark, Ireland and the Flanders region of Belgium — had exemptions on EU manure caps because of their small land areas, but that exemption is set to end for Dutch farmers. Rutte’s government aims to reduce emissions by buying out livestock farmers — even though they have expressed little interest in gift cards.

BBB has faced criticism for its anti-immigration views and hostility toward EU enlargement, but its success in the polls has little to do with a right-wing shift in the Netherlands. In fact, not only did the recent election attract voters who used the provincial election as a poll on the government, but it also was a significant blow to far-right parties who lost big — most severely the Forum for Democracy party.

This leaves the Dutch government with one of two options. Pretend it’s a phase, exploit the fact that this new party will inevitably make errors in communication, and carry on — or change policy. The latter might become inevitable, not merely because the government needs Senate approval for these reduction targets. While Rutte’s coalition can find the votes on the far left, this strategy would come with its own downsides. Green and far-left senators are likely to support the targets but demand even more ambitious goals going forward, which would only aggravate the political climate. Rutte, known as “Teflon Mark” (for his ability to weather multiple political crises), is also confronted with the possibility of members of his own four-party coalition getting cold feet in the process.

The political happenings in the Netherlands are a symptom of what is likely to happen around Europe. Agriculture, a field usually reserved for wonky policy debates and hourlong yawn-inducing committee meetings, is becoming center-stage in Europe’s green ambitions. The farm sector is undeniably responsible for a large part of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has unjustly ended up on the chopping block of simplistic rulemaking. 

The Dutch policy of phasing out one-third of farms came from the fact that the only realistic way of cutting emissions reliably would be to severely downsize the aviation and construction sector, neither of which the Netherlands can realistically afford given its economic activity. The decision to target farmers as a last resort is emblematic of the European approach that will create a lot of hostility: It is the perfect story for creating populist movements.

For the past decade, Europe has made far-reaching promises on emissions targets. But now that the EU and its member states face the reality of how those will be achieved, it will likely get ugly. 

The “Farm to Fork” strategy of the European Union is experiencing the same fate: the European Commission’s agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, has said he believes that F2F unfairly puts Eastern European member states at a disadvantage even though he is the person supposed to defend the policies of reducing pesticide, fertilizer and farmland use.

 According to an impact assessment conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the strategy would lead to a decline in agricultural production between 7 percent and 12 percent. Meanwhile, the EU’s decline in GDP would represent 76 percent of the decline in the worldwide GDP. This would hit low-income households, which are already suffering from inflation.

The last few years saw the marches of young climate activists who issued ambitious policy wish lists. In the next few years, it will be the marches of those who must pay for them.

Originally published here


Nos régulateurs et leur approche paternaliste risquent de faire encore des ravages. 

Si vous vous parfumez avant une soirée ou que vous appliquez un anti-moustique cet été, il se peut que vous utilisiez des huiles essentielles. Ces extraits concentrés de plantes sont largement utilisés à la maison, et pas seulement par les blogueurs spécialisés dans le bien-être : ils rafraîchissent le linge, traitent l’acné et éloignent les mouches à fruits. Pourtant, en vertu des nouvelles règles de l’UE, l’utilisation des huiles essentielles pourrait être gravement perturbée.

L’Agence européenne des produits chimiques (ECHA) a annoncé son intention de passer d’une évaluation basée sur les risques à une évaluation basée sur les hasards pour mesurer les composés chimiques (y compris les simples extraits de plantes). La différence n’est pas simplement sémantique. Dans les communications sur les risques, les termes « hasards » et « danger » ont des significations différentes en anglais.

Des effets négatifs plus ou moins probables

Prenons l’exemple du simple fait d’être à l’extérieur. Le soleil représente un « hasard », car en plus de donner des coups de soleil en raison de ses rayons UV, il peut provoquer des maladies plus graves telles que le cancer de la peau. Les gens gèrent ce risque en limitant leur exposition, par exemple en se mettant à l’ombre, en apportant un parasol ou en appliquant de la crème solaire. L’équation est donc la suivante : risque = hasard x exposition.

La question de toute évaluation des risques est ainsi : quelle est la probabilité qu’un produit donné ait des effets négatifs sur ses utilisateurs ?

Si l’on appliquait à la vie une approche fondée sur les hasards, on craindrait les voitures sur les routes que l’on ne traverse pas, on s’abriterait sous les avions qui volent à une altitude normale ou, on ne sortirait pas du tout. Malheureusement, l’ECHA a l’intention d’appliquer cette approche excessivement prudente aux huiles essentielles, en les étiquetant comme hasardeuses.

L’agence est incitée à évaluer les huiles essentielles dans le cadre du règlement (CE) n°1272/2008 relatif à la classification, à l’étiquetage et à l’emballage (CLP), ce qui signifie qu’elle exigerait qu’elles portent des étiquettes d’avertissement indiquant leur dangerosité ou qu’elles soient interdites à la vente.

Comme pour toute chose, c’est le dosage qui fait la différence. Si un verre d’eau ne présente aucun danger, la consommation de plus de cinq litres en moins d’une heure peut entraîner la mort par intoxication hydrique. Il en va de même pour l’huile essentielle : si elle est parfaitement sûre pour l’homme et (heureusement) très désagréable pour les moustiques, elle peut être toxique si vous la buvez.

Si ce fait semble évident pour les consommateurs, à qui l’on conseille également de tenir les huiles essentielles ou les produits chimiques tels que les produits de nettoyage hors de portée des enfants, il semble échapper aux autorités de réglementation, qui estiment qu’il s’agit d’une substance dangereuse.

Des alternatives parfois pires

Si les consommateurs n’ont pas accès aux produits à base d’huiles essentielles ou sont dissuadés de les utiliser, ils se tourneront probablement vers des solutions de remplacement artificielles et peut-être plus nocives, telles que les insectifuges contenant du diéthyltoluamide, connu sous le nom de DEET, qui peut affecter le système nerveux humain et avoir un impact négatif sur les plantes et les animaux.

Les étiquettes d’avertissement peuvent avoir un effet durable sur la façon dont les consommateurs perçoivent les produits qu’ils achètent. Si des étiquettes de danger injustifiées seront ajoutées aux huiles essentielles, les consommateurs pourraient se tourner vers des solutions moins saines, ce qui aurait des répercussions sur un secteur tout aussi important.

En 2022, la valeur du marché mondial des huiles essentielles a dépassé les 24 Mds€. En 2021, la France a exporté pour plus de 450 M€ de produits à base d’huiles essentielles. Cela signifie que la réglementation actuellement soutenue par la présidence suédoise de l’UE affecterait les consommateurs de l’UE et de la Suède. Elle affecterait également certains pays de l’UE plus que d’autres.

Le projet de l’ECHA menace en effet de faire dérailler le développement économique du pays le plus pauvre de l’Union européenne, la Bulgarie. C’est l’un des principaux producteurs mondiaux d’huile de lavande. Les agriculteurs bulgares cultivent plus de 40 000 hectares de lavande dans la région de la vallée des roses, et le pays exporte 99% de sa production vers la France, l’Allemagne, l’Autriche et les Etats-Unis.

Le pays est le premier producteur mondial d’huile de rose, responsable de la création de 800 kg à 2 tonnes de ce produit par an pour les grandes sociétés de cosmétiques et de parfumerie. Le changement de réglementation menace les moyens de subsistance des 35 000 personnes employées à la récolte des roses dans la vallée des roses, célèbre dans le monde entier. Il compromet également les 92 M€ d’exportations totales que la Bulgarie tire des huiles essentielles. L’ECHA pourrait accidentellement rendre le pays le plus pauvre de l’UE encore plus pauvre.

Les parfums affectés

Sa décision ferait également des ravages dans les industries européennes de la parfumerie et de la cosmétique.

Plus que de simples anti-moustiques, les huiles essentielles font partie intégrante des parfums, des produits de toilette et des accessoires de maquillage, créant ainsi le marché des cosmétiques « clean beauty » tel que nous le connaissons aujourd’hui. Parmi les ingrédients indispensables à l’industrie, 992 proviennent de ces extraits naturels. Leurs propriétés hydrophobes, anti-inflammatoires, antimicrobiennes et antioxydantes en font des émulsions idéales, faciles à appliquer, hygiéniques, durables et adaptées à divers types de peau.

Par exemple, la menthe poivrée et la lavande ne dégagent pas seulement une odeur agréable: grâce à leurs propriétés antioxydantes, elles ralentissent le processus de dégradation des cellules (ce qui représente un potentiel important pour tout gel anti-âge). En tant qu’anti-inflammatoires non stéroïdiens, elles contribuent à réduire la douleur avec un minimum de complications. Enfin, leur nature antifongique et anti microbienne aide à préserver la peau des clients de l’acné ou des infections indésirables.

Sans surprise, les huiles se combinent pour former les 3 225 fragrances qui confèrent aux parfums mondialement connus tels que Givenchy et Chanel leur odeur unique et aux shampooings et kits de maquillage leurs couleurs vibrantes.

La politique chimique, c’est intello, et ce n’est certainement pas aussi attrayant que l’huile essentielle utilisée pour fabriquer nos parfums. Pourtant, il est important de rappeler aux régulateurs qu’une approche paternaliste et basée sur les hasard ou lieu des risques réels, pour leur classification, n’est ni nécessaire ni pratique. Les décideurs politiques doivent évaluer les risques et les avantages de chaque produit et agir en conséquence.

Dans le cas présent, agir en conséquence signifie ne pas étiqueter tout ce qui contient des huiles essentielles comme étant dangereux, surtout… parce qu’elles ne le sont pas dans le cadre d’un usage modéré.

Originally published here

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