New efforts in Brazil to expose regulatory plight of farmers everyday people

Brazilian farmers are looking at increased burdensome regulations that will make it harder for them to continue producing the food that many rely on. New regulations proposed by several members of the Brazilian Congress call for “plain packaging,” which would ban the use of advertisement in product packaging. In response, Consumer Choice Center (CCC) recently opened a new branch in Brazil to fight these detrimental policies.

The new plain packaging laws, specifically targeting tobacco products, would remove all the advertising aspects of a product’s packaging.  Instead of alluring colors, fonts, and images, the new regulations seek to deter the customer by replacing the more appealing packaging with boring, unappealing colors and labels.

“Several bad policies that would harm consumers are currently discussed in Brazil,” says Fred Cyrus Roeder, managing director of CCC.  “Banning brands of consumer goods, restrictive labeling laws for food, and banning pesticides…make food production much more expensive in a country that heavily relies on its agricultural sector.”

Roeder has argued against brand restrictions in the past, writing that, “in a market economy, brands enable competition and diversification of products and services. The more we limit brands the more we move to a grey, collectivist, and unfree society.”  CCC also pushed back in Europe against similar regulations that would “eliminate all forms of marketing of any products to which a broad range of children are exposed.”

CCC has already established successful partners in Europe and North America; the CCC Brazil branch opened on Aug. 1. It is working with the youth-led Students for Liberty Brasil to demonstrate the harm caused by these policies. Together, they hope to encourage Brazilian citizens to fight for a freer agricultural sector.

“We are about to launch a campaign in Brazil on why brands matter and how a dystopian world without brands could look,” said Roeder. “This will include a stunt of repurposing a grocery store for a day and only displaying plainly packaged goods with large warning labels. We are fortunate to team up with Students For Liberty Brasil and tap into their expertise on grassroots activism and local knowledge in Brazil.”

These regulations on farming and packaging are hurting everyday Brazilian consumers and farmers, hopefully, the work of Consumer Choice Center and Students for Liberty Brasil can help change that reality.

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Banning junk food ads to combat childhood obesity

MEDICINE NEWS LINE: On the November 23rd, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that as of February, all advertisements for food high in fat, sugar and salt will be banned from the London’s tube and bus network. The measure is part of the mayor’s plan to decrease child obesity rates.

The Consumer Choice Center’s London-based Managing Director Fred Roeder said that combating childhood obesity is a noble goal, but trampling on consumer choice and the rights of adult consumers isn’t an appropriate solution.

Even though we all agree that obesity is an important issue, marketing restrictions haven’t proved to be effective in stemming it. In 1980, junk food advertising was outlawed in Quebec and contrary to the expected outcomes, childhood obesity rates went up by 140% in the 15 years following the introduction of the ban.

In October, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to the Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. We don’t have a junk food problem, but a calorie burning problem. Rather than impose the junk food ban, the mayor should advocate promoting healthy lifestyles that include physical exercise.

To back up the plan, the mayor explained that ‘advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make.’ While it is true that advertisements help distinguish products on the market, governments should preserve consumers’ rights to decide for themselves and avoid legislation that seeks to ban brands. Ultimately, we as a society need to focus on educating and empowering parents to ensure their children make healthy choices.”

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The Consumer Choice Center: A Lobby for consumers

A Freedom Today conversation with Fred Roeder of the CCC

Why did you decide to launch the Consumer Choice Center?

Back in 2014 i lived in Berlin and started loving the recently started services by the ride sharing company Uber. But just after a few months of service taxi drivers across Europe decided to go on a massive strike to protest the new competition. Part of this strike was a large manifestation in front of the Olympic Stadium In Berlin. A motorcade of 1,000 taxis drove towards the stadium. That morning me and two friends decided to go to that manifestation in order to show flag for our right as consumers to pick the ride of our choice. We went to a copy shop and printed some A3-sized signs saying “Taxi monopoly is so yesterday” and “Uber on!”  Our little stunt got wide media attention and the taxi drivers went so crazy that Police had to escort us away from the angry taxi drivers. That day I realized that there’s no organized lobby for consumers that love choice. At the same time companies weren’t used to support consumers to drive policies that would benefits both: consumers and innovators.

After two years of running some campaigns for choice and against the Nanny State within Students For Liberty we decided to take this consumers advocacy to the next level and founded the Consumer Choice Center.

With Yael Ossowski and David Clement in North America and Luca Bertoletti and me in Europe we aimed to create a consumer group that actually cares about our desire to freely choose.

Students For Liberty was tremendously important to get this launched. Their support and trust helped us to focus on this new project.

So whom does the Consumer Choice Center represent?

Broadly we represent the silent majority of consumers that feel confident making their own choices. Those who are fed up with regulatory overreach. Consumers who would benefit from innovation such as home sharing or harm reducing technologies if they wouldn’t be banned by paternalistic policies.

Over the past two years we got support from millions of social media users who watch, like, and share our work in the web. We also got endorsed by policy makers from Europe, North- and South America and more and more regulators including the European Commission are curious about our work and invite us to help shaping consumer friendly policies.

According to representative polls we have conducted in several countries the vast majority of consumers prefer choice. And this is was the Consumer Choice Center stands for.

We also just launched a new program that allows consumers to support the CCC through annual membership fees and become card-carrying Consumer Choice Center supporters.

Who funds the Consumer Choice Center?

That is an important and frequently asked question. We are very transparent about our funding: Most of our funding comes from private businesses, family foundations also fund our work, and more and more consumers start supporting us with small but important donations.

Don’t you see a conflict of interest being co-funded by companies?

We do have a code of ethics that strictly separates our fundraising efforts and editorial decisions. A Chinese Wall between donors and editorial decisions allows us to remain fully independent from corporate interests. For the sake of transparency we publish all industries that support us in our website.

Have you ever said “No” to a potential donor?

Yes, we have to do that very regularly as often the expectation of donors is that they can just pay us for spreading their issues but this is not how we work. We only promote issues that enable and increase consumer choice. We aren’t interested in picking winners. This is something consumers have to do on the marketplace and not lobbyists or politicians. We turn down nearly half of funding proposals we receive. Everything else would cause mission creep and would destroy what we have built up with the Consumer Choice Center in the past.

What has the Consumer Choice Center achieved so far?

We have several campaigns I am particularly proud of. In Ontario, Canada we helped to allow private retail of recreational Cannabis and thus give the black market a much harder time come April 2019. We helped to prevent a piece of regulation that would have massively increased airline ticket prices in the United States. In 2017 we helped to delay a sneaking branding ban in the Republic of Georgia by five years. That same year we successfully campaigned against a soft drink tax in the city of Montreal. Right now we are working on creating a true single market for digital services and infrastructure in Europe. Consumers traveling between countries would benefit a lot from this: Just think that every European country has a different fee system for digital rights which makes it so hard to stream abroad. My colleague Bill Wirtz does currently also great work on liberalizing the European bus market.

What currently excites you the most in your work with the Consumer Choice Center?

Two issues I am very passionate about right now are self driving cars and littering laws. We could safe thousands of lives in Europe if we would pass legislation that allows self driving cars given that most deadly accidents are caused by human error. The entire world currently debates bans on single use plastics in order to clean up the oceans. What is not much mentioned in that debate is that Europe and the US combined cause merely 2% of marine pollution and most of it is caused by a few emerging markets such as China and India. Enforcing property rights in these countries would have an actual impact on marine pollution whereas symbolic bans in Europe and the US will merely cause unintended consequences but not clean up the oceans. I live in the UK which has a very progressive approach towards tobacco harm reduction which allows millions of nicotine consumers to switch to safer alternatives such as electronic cigarettes or heat not burn products. I recently traveled to Brazil to meet up with our new staffer Andre Freo and had to learn that these products are banned in Brazil since 2009. By legalizing novel nicotine products tens of millions of Brazilian smokers would have less harmful alternatives. It is insane that governments prevent people from accessing safer products. This is something that gets me out of bed every morning. If we don’t fight for our right to choose we have no right to complain about paternalism. Our Senior Fellow Jeff Stier has done great work on this in the United States and Israel.

Where else do you see consumer choice being attacked?

A simple but frightening example in many liberal democracies is the power of the public health lobby. Freedom of speech and brands are being limited with the argument that this is good for public health. We got so far a wide coalition of European policy makers in the BrandsMatter Group that pledged to defend consumers’ rights to enjoy brands.

The recent discussion on taxing red meat and banning milkshakes in the UK are other examples of public health overreacting to studies on toxicity of total fine products and reports on obesity levels. If you look at government data you will actually see that calorie intake has constantly declined in the past 5 decades in Western countries. The problem is that people don’t exercise enough. Maria Chaplia and our fellow Richard Mason have done some great work on these issues. I am really happy that we have more and more smart consumer advocates joining us and raising the voice and profile of the Consumer Choice Center.

In the past twelve months we have been quoted and published in outlets such as The Telegraph, Die Welt, Le Monde, Politico, USA Today, The Washington Post, Toronto Star, the Express, The Guardian, FoxNews, And The New York Times. Consumers have finally a voice and we are keen to take this to the next level.

Thank you for the Interview Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published at https://ftn.media/consumer-choice-center-lobby-consumers

Banning junk food ads to combat childhood obesity

On the November 23rd, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that as of February, all advertisements for food high in fat, sugar and salt will be banned from the London’s tube and bus network. The measure is part of the mayor’s plan to decrease child obesity rates.

The Consumer Choice Center’s London-based Managing Director Fred Roeder said that combating childhood obesity is a noble goal, but trampling on consumer choice and the rights of adult consumers isn’t an appropriate solution.

Even though we all agree that obesity is an important issue, marketing restrictions haven’t proved to be effective in stemming it. In 1980, junk food advertising was outlawed in Quebec and contrary to the expected outcomes, childhood obesity rates went up by 140% in the 15 years following the introduction of the ban.

In October, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to the Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. We don’t have a junk food problem, but a calorie burning problem. Rather than impose the junk food ban, the mayor should advocate promoting healthy lifestyles that include physical exercise.

To back up the plan, the mayor explained that ‘advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make.’ While it is true that advertisements help distinguish products on the market, governments should preserve consumers’ rights to decide for themselves and avoid legislation that seeks to ban brands. Ultimately, we as a society need to focus on educating and empowering parents to ensure their children make healthy choices.”

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Do you want to save the turtles? Don’t ban plastics – ban littering

FOAM FACTS: Like any good Londoner, I used the fantastic summer weather to kayak from Limehouse to Hackney, discovering that part of the city by water.

As a fairly experienced river and sea kayaker, I was taken aback by how full of litter London’s waters are.

At around the same time, the national and global debate on how to tackle marine plastic pollution was gathering momentum, amplified by shocking pictures of turtles injured by straws and other plastics.

The EU has outlined its plans to outlaw single-use plastics, and the UK government has signalled that post-Brexit Britain will have a very simple approach: ban them. Besides the widely discussed plans to prohibit straws and plastic balloon sticks, the UK is also looking into banning single-use plastic cutlery and plates, while environment secretary Michael Gove appeared to suggest he was considering a ban on disposable nappies.

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Single-use plastic and the sign industry

SIGNLINK: Fred Roeder of London-based lobby group Consumer Choice says: “By banning single-use plastics such as Styrofoam cups, straws, stirrers and cotton buds in Europe we won’t solve the actual problem, which is the terrible pollution of our oceans with plastic litter. While the EU accounts for over 20 percent of the world’s economic output, it causes merely one percent of marine plastic pollution.

Therefore, rather than banning viable technologies in Europe we should rather focus on increasing recycling rates, enforce existing anti-littering laws in Europe, and push the main polluters of the oceans such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil to comply with environmental standards and implement effective anti-littering laws.”

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Global konsumentorganisation gör tummen ner för EU:s plastpolitik

PACKNEWS: Den globala konsumentorganisationen Consumer Choice Center (CCC), med huvudsäte i Arlington, Virginia, USA och som representerar konsumenter i mer än 100 länder, gör tummen ner för EU:s förslag till direktiv om förbud mot vissa plastprodukter.

”Medlemsländernas EU-ambassadörer borde stå upp för konsumenterna i sina respektive länder i stället för att följa EU-kommissionens och EU-parlamentets missvisande plastpolitik. Ett förbud mot engångprodukter av plast som dryckesbägare, sugrör, bomullspinnar, mm. löser inte det faktiska problemet med de fruktansvärda föroreningarna av världens hav och oceaner”, säger CCC:s VD Fred Roeder i ett uttalande.

I sin argumentation framför Fred Roeder att EU svarar för över 20 procent av världens ekonomiska produktion, men bara bidrar med en procent till de marina plastföroreningarna.

”Inom EU borde man istället för förbud mot utvalda plastprodukter fokusera på att öka återvinningsgraden av plast och att tillämpa befintlig lagar mot nedskräpning”, säger Fred Roeder.

EU borde också driva på de stora oceannedskräparna som Kina, Indien, Indonesien, Brasilien, med flera att följa vedertagna miljöstandarder och stifta effektiva lagar mot nedskräpning, enligt Fred Roeder.

”Europeiska konsumenter har gjort sin läxa och visar respekt för vår miljö. Det finns inget behov av att straffa EU:s konsumenter för föroreningar, som orsakas av beteendet hos konsumenter i länder i andra världsdelar”, säger Fred Roeder.

N.B.: Svenska bransch- och arbetsgivarorganisationen IKEM (Innovations- och kemiindustrierna i Sverige), som bland annat representerar plastbranschen i Sverige, har tidigare framfört liknande kritik mot EU:s plastpolitik. Läs HÄR!

Konsumentorganisationen Consumer Choice Center är verksam i flera länder och säger sig representera konsumenter och gräsrötter i mer än 100 länder. Läs mer om CCC HÄR.

Originally published at http://www.packnyheter.se/default.asp?id=14131&show=more&titel=Global-konsumentorganisation-g%C3%B6r-tummen-ner-f%C3%B6r-EU:s-plastpolitik

Single-use plastics ban comes in for criticism

IMAGE REPORTS: The Austrian EU presidency has signalled a common line to negotiate a Europe-wide single-use plastics ban with the European Commission and Parliament.

Managing director of the Consumer Choice Centre Fred Roeder has criticised the current negotiation position of the council. “The EU ambassadors should stand up for consumers and consumer choice in their member states instead of following the misleading policy move of the Commission and the Parliament. By banning single-use plastics such as styrofoam cups, straws, stirrers and cotton buds in Europe we won’t solve the actual problem which is the terrible pollution of our oceans with plastic litter,” said Roeder “While the EU accounts for over 20% of the world’s economic output it causes merely 1% of marine plastic pollution. Therefore rather than banning viable technologies in Europe we should rather focus on increasing recycling rates, enforce existing anti-littering laws in Europe, and push the main polluters of the oceans such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil to comply with environmental standards and implement effective anti-littering laws,” said Roeder. “European consumers have already done their homework and showed their respect for our environment. There’s no need to punish EU consumers for the pollution causing behaviour of consumers in emerging countries.”

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Consumer Choice Center criticises Chancellor’s plastic packaging tax

PACKAGING NEWS: The Consumer Choice Center’s (CCC) Fred Roeder believes the UK should not tax plastic packaging but enforce littering laws.

While applauding the decision to abandon plans for a ‘latte levy’, Fred Roeder, the London-based managing director of the Consumer Choice Center which represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe, criticised Philip Hammond’s tax plans.

“The good news is that the UK government dropped their plan for the ‘latte levy’ which would have penalised consumers who buy drinks during their commute or on the road,” he said. “The bad news is that the Conservative government did not pivot from fighting against plastics to actually enforcing existing littering laws.”

“The new plans to impose a tax on imported and locally manufactured plastic packaging will not significantly impact marine plastic pollution but only burden UK consumers with a new tax. Taxing plastic packaging penalises all consumers for the bad behaviour of a few who actually litter. Enforcing existing littering laws is the best domestic driver to lower the UK’s contribution to global pollution,” said Roeder

Roeder furthermore suggested that the UK’s marine pollution footprint was merely marginal: “Given that merely 0.1% of global marine plastic pollution is caused by the United Kingdom we should be more focused on how to make the main polluters such as China, India, and Indonesia enforce environmental standards and property rights.”

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Budget 2018: Industry responds

ENERGY LIVE NEWS: Plastic packaging tax won’t work

Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center, Fred Roeder, said: “The good news is that the UK Government dropped their plan for the ‘latte levy’ which would have penalised consumers who buy drinks during their commute or on the road. The bad news is that the Conservative government did not pivot from fighting against plastics to actually enforcing existing littering laws.

“The new plans to impose a tax on imported and locally manufactured plastic packaging will not significantly impact marine plastic pollution but only burden UK consumers with a new tax. Taxing plastic packaging penalises all consumers for the bad behaviour of a few who actually litter. Enforcing existing littering laws is the best domestic driver to lower the UK’s contribution to global pollution.”

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