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Infographic: Check if you can buy medicines in your country online.

In times of the Coronavirus, online pharmacies are crucial. But most European countries still don’t allow them.

All across Europe, healthcare professionals and the entire health systems are being tested as more and more patients need care. Governments and epidemiologists are asking large parts of the population to stay at home, social distance, or self-isolate. 

Modern ways of supporting mildly sick and average sick patients are absolutely necessary in order to keep important health infrastructure available for those most in need.

But only seven out of 28 European countries (EU28 including UK) allow patients to order prescription-only medicine online. Only Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherland, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Germany have legalized the so-called RX online pharmacies. Northern European countries seem to be much better when it comes to allowing patients to order RX medicine online.

Thanks to a European Court of Justice ruling from 2003, all EU countries are obliged to allow the sale of over-the-counter drugs (e.g. Aspirin) online. Switzerland allows online pharmacies to sell prescription drugs but not over-the-counter drugs. So a Swiss will be able to reorder her asthma spray but not get any Paracetamol online.

Policymakers should liberalize these restrictions immediately in order to allow hundreds of millions of Europeans to order medicines without leaving their house. Quick deployment of electronic prescriptions would leverage this liberalization. The United Kingdom allows electronic prescriptions for many ailments. Copying this system among the entire continent would allow patients to purchase antibiotics, asthma sprays, and other drugs they might need to fight off the coronavirus.


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

In times of Coronavirus: policy-makers won’t stop legislating your consumer choice away

Disclaimer: Independently of my arguments in this blog post, it remains very important that sanitise your hands regularly, avoid physical contact with other people, and reduce your social interactions to the necessary levels. Particularly avoid contact with elderly people, and those with underlying health conditions. Consult your local government health websites for more information, particularly on detecting symptoms. 

As the world is paralysed by the Coronavirus crisis, many people have altered schedules. Working from home, different commute, restrictions on crossing borders and severely impacted air travel: for a while, our lives will look very different. While healthcare workers and medical researchers are working around the clock to provide life-saving help and discover possible cures, our media attention is shifting away from our day-to-day worries to the well-being of our friends and family.

Meanwhile, policy-makers are not on a break. In the United States Senate, the re-authorisation of the Patriot Act was passed, giving warrantless collection of personal data an extension of 77 days. The French National Assembly is currently suspended, yet set to resume next week with a debate on nuclear deterrence, as President Macron has been criticised for not keeping his word on the reduction of nuclear weapons capabilities. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin changed the constitution on March 14, allowing him to run for yet another two terms. Just last week, the UK Parliament narrowly voted down an amendment that would have banned the Chinese telecommunications operator Huawei, under considerable flack for not guaranteeing consumer privacy, from engaging in the UK market. 

What we’re also experiencing is a number of media stories on harm-reduction tools such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products being dangerous in times of the virus, leading the way to further restrictions from governments. As consumers are paying attention to their own health and that of their families, authorities have an easier time passing otherwise unpopular decisions. Thus, consumers remain forced to consider their own attention as a valuable resource: the fight for consumer choice doesn’t rest.

Note that as a follower of the work of the Consumer Choice Center, you can send in tips through this website, making us and our volunteers aware of current events in the realm of consumer choice. Your local municipal council or government might be in the midst of trying to pass certain measures unnoticed, as news outlets are focused on this pandemic. Consumers will know that it is always a bigger struggle to repeal active legislation, than it is to stop those rules that are in the process of being made.

Some bans limiting consumer choice hurt especially in times of self-isolation: Home deliveries of alcohol, bans on online pharmacies, and limited opening hours of supermarkets are things you really don’t need right now.

Ultimately, legislators and regulators should give consumers a break, not only because people have more important things to do, but also because from a democratic standpoint, new restrictions ought to be carefully weighed and debated, before they pass the houses of parliament on the same day as people see their loved ones transported into emergency rooms. There are smart rules and relief for consumers that are being passed as we speak, and they should be applauded, but reductions in consumer choice need their fair share of input before they go to a vote.

For the sake of the standards we expect governments to abide by, let’s give consumers a break on new taxes, new bans, new infringements on their personal privacy, and new paternalistic policies. 


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

It’s actually great to be a consumer in the time of coronavirus

One idea I’ve seen thrown around a little too much on Twitter and across the Internet lately has been that consumers are somehow living in a doomsday scenario during the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus points to “shortages, price gouging, and scams” that are popping up in response to the virus.

No doubt, there is a lot of economic uncertainty when it comes to restaurants, bars, and establishments that serve the public. There’s even legitimate panic-buying of toilet paper that is sparking enough memes to keep you busy until the end of March. And no one can seem to get enough hand sanitizer.

But is it really so bad for consumers?

Barring a future moratorium on commerce, online or otherwise, people are still able to get the products they need.

We have access to food delivery on-demand, Amazon is still arriving at our doorsteps, and stores are stocking up faster than we’ve ever seen. We’ve never been more equipped and technologically ready to stare down a crisis.

When products run out in some stores, neighborhood corner stores offer their own, sometimes at market-adjusted prices during a time of very high demand. Those are our markets at work, and we should celebrate that.

There are false claims in advertising, but most large retailers are actively shutting these product descriptions down. That’s a good thing. The same can be said for scammers who are trying to cash in on the misinformation.

But, if you live on Twitter and you’ve seen photos of empty shelves at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, you’d think it was the end of the world. Until the next day, when those shelves were easily restocked.

“I think the fact that they’re going to shut school down caused people to consider ramping up their grocery-buying habits because their daily lives are going to change,” said Brandon Scholz, president & CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.

As Scholz witnessed across the state of Wisconsin, there have been shortages of some products in various stores. But that has more to do with immediate and spiking demand rather than low supply on behalf of producers.

Grocery stores are staying stocked and replenishing their supplies at a rapid pace. But they need time to adjust to the demand that is inflated at peak times. The domestic supply chains in the United States remain vibrant and are delivering, and they’re bouncing back when we need them most. Could the same be said for countries with extreme price controls and rationing?

But what about the $220 bottles of Lysol on Amazon or eBay? And the hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes now worth 50% or 100% more than their normal price?

States like California and New York are stepping in to stop the “price gouging” as they believe it’s unfair and immoral in a time of crisis. California won’t allow any business to raise prices on items more than 10% than pre-crisis – even if demand is outstripping supply thousands of times over.

But fluctuating prices in a time of panic buying are actually what you want because they help limit hoarding and best allocate resources where they’re both scarce and necessary. It’s well known that price gouging laws have the effect of distorting real prices and actually causing more shortages. Just remember runs for gasoline during Hurricane Katrina and similar natural disasters.

Many consumer advocates stand in favor of anti-price gauging laws because they assume they protect the consumer, but they actually end up doing the opposite. They distort prices and lead to shortages. That’s why economists are pretty solid on this issue and oppose all attempts at anti-price gouging laws.

Here is Duke University professor Michael Munger on anti-price gouging laws:

So while there may be temporary panic taking place online, in the real world, our small businesses and entrepreneurs are delivering for consumers. Food is available and plentiful, all kinds of products are stocked and ready for purchase.

There have been mistakes and it hasn’t been perfect. But markets have delivered. And consumers know it, even if they won’t’ admit it.

Instead of succumbing to the panic and thinking the worst, we should actually be stepping back and looking at the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in and marvel at how well our institutions and businesses are doing in giving us what we need. There is plenty of uncertainty, but the creative people out there who provide solutions are doing just that.

We, as consumers, can be confident in their efforts.

Stuck at home? We should be able to have our alcohol delivered

This week, millions of Americans will be following the advice of their public health agencies and staying home to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Where possible, many will have food and drinks delivered to help support the thousands of restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores that have been ordered to temporarily close or limit hours.

Americans in multiple states will be prohibited, however, from having any alcohol hit their doorstep. 

That’s due to arcane laws on the books in several states that don’t allow certain alcohol – beer, wine, and spirits – to be shipped directly to consumers.

Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah ban all alcohol shipments to consumers, whereas most others only allow wine shipments, shipments of alcohol after it has been purchased physically in a store, or from wineries located in-state.

Only Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, and New Hampshire allow consumers to purchase alcohol online and have it shipped to their residences.

Now is as good a time as any to consider changing these laws and empowering consumers to receive alcohol at home just like any other product.

Social distancing is here and millions of people are staying home to avoid spreading coronavirus. But if you’re unlucky enough to live in a state with strict alcohol laws, you won’t be able to ship a bottle of wine, a six-pack, or your favorite bourbon to your address. And that’s beyond ridiculous.

Improvements in technology and mobile apps have connected millions to stores and marketplaces that ship products to our doors relatively quickly.

Bans on shipping alcohol are leftover policies from Prohibition that deprive us of choice. These bans will only exacerbate the economic damage caused by coronavirus.

In the 21st century, we should no longer have antiquated alcohol laws that restrict our choices, reduce commerce, and treat adults more like children. Let’s legalize alcohol shipments.

Fight Viruses by releasing the Gene Scissors: What is Gene Editing and why should we get excited about it?

Understanding gene editing with comic book figures

Humanity is currently facing a huge challenge imposed by the Coronavirus. Borders are being shut down, planes grounded, and factories closed. At the same time, scientists and public health professionals are working on tests, treatments, and vaccines to soon provide a medical response. Coping with corona might be one of the largest tests humans have faced in the past decades but it won’t be the last virus we need to defeat. It is time to embrace bioscience and allow more research and applications of genetic alteration methods.

For the layman, all this technobabble about mutagenesis and genetic engineering is difficult to comprehend and it took me personally a good amount of reading to start grasping what different methods exist and how these can massively improve our quality of life.

Let’s first look at the four most common ways to alter the genes of a plant or animal: 

  • Dr. Xaver – Mutations per se just happen regularly in nature – This is how some amino acids ended up being humans a billion years later. Biological evolution can only happen thanks to mutations. Mutations in nature happen randomly or are caused by exogenous factors such as radiation (e.g. sun). For the comic book readers among us, X-men have mutations that (in most cases) occurred randomly.
Mutations occur in nature all the time
  • The Hulk – Mutation through exposure (mutagens): One of the most common ways to manipulate seeds is exposing them to radiation and hoping for positive mutations (e.g. higher pest resistance). This method is very common since the 1950s and a very inaccurate shotgun approach aiming to make crops more resistant or palatable. It requires thousands of attempts to get a positive result. This method is widely used and legal in nearly every country. In our comic book universe, the Hulk is a good example of mutations caused by radiation.
Your daily veggies and the Hulk have much more in common than you would think
  • Spiderman – Genetically Modified Organisms (transgenic GMO): This often-feared procedure of creating GMOs is based on inserting the genes of one species into the genes of another. In most cases, GMO crops have been injected with a protein of another plant or bacteria that makes the crop grow faster or be more resistant towards certain diseases. Other examples can be seen in crossing salmon with tilapia fish which makes the salmon grow twice as fast. Spiderman being bitten by a spider and suddenly being able to climb skyscrapers due to his enhanced spider-human (transgenic) DNA is an example from the comicverse. 
Combining genes across species: When spiders and humans come together
  • GATTACA/Wrath of Khan – Gene Editing (the scissors): The latest and most precise way of altering an organism’s genes is so-called Gene Editing. In contrast to traditional GMOs, genes are not being implanted from another organism but changed within the organism due to a precise method of either deactivating certain genes or adding them. 
Gluten-free Super Villain: Gene Editing is not so much about super-humans but more about keeping and making us healthy

This can be even done in grown humans that are alive, which is a blessing for everyone who suffers from genetic disorders. We are able to “repair” genes in live organisms. Gene editing is also thousands of times more accurate than just bombarding seeds with radiation. Some applied examples are deactivating the gene responsible for generating gluten in wheat: The result is gluten-free wheat. There are several methods that achieve this. One of the most popular ones these days is the so-called CRISPR Cas-9. These ‘scissors’ are usually reprogrammed bacteria that transmit the new gene information or deactivate defunct or unwanted genes. Many science fiction novels and movies show a future in which we can deactivate genetic defects and cure humans from terrible diseases. Some examples of stories in which CRISPR-like techniques have been used are movies such as GATTACA, Star Trek’s Wrath of Khan, or the Expanse series in which gene editing plays a crucial role in growing crops in space.

What does this have to do with the Coronavirus?

Synthetic biologists have started using CRISPR to synthetically create parts of the coronavirus in an attempt to launch a vaccine against this lung disease and be able to mass-produce it very quickly. In combination with computer simulations and artificial intelligence, the best design for such a vaccine is calculated on a computer and then synthetically created. This speeds up vaccine development and cuts it from years to merely months. Regulators and approval bodies have shown that in times of crisis they can also rapidly approve new testing and vaccination procedures which usually require years of back and forth with agencies such as the FDA?

CRISPR also allows the ‘search’ for specific genes, also genes of a virus. This helped researchers to build fast and simple testing procedures to test patients for corona.

In the long term, gene editing might allow us to increase the immunity of humans by altering our genes and making us more resistant to viruses and bacteria. 

This won’t be the last crisis

While the coronavirus seems to really test our modern society, we also need to be aware that this won’t be the last pathogen that has the potential to kill millions. If we are unlucky, corona might mutate quickly and become harder to fight. The next dangerous virus, fungus, or bacteria is probably around the corner. Hence we need to embrace the latest inventions of biotechnology and not block genetic research and the deployment of its findings.

Right now a lot of red tape and even outright bans are standing between lifesaving innovations such as CRISPR and patients around the world. We need to rethink our hostility towards genetic engineering and embrace it. To be frank: We are in a constant struggle to fight newly occurring diseases and need to be able to deploy state of the art human answers to this.

Millennials and Your Retirement Accounts: Keep Calm and Carry On

It’s here.

Whether it was Tom Hanks contracting the novel coronavirus, or the shutting down of most major sports league events in an effort to avoid further infections, the pandemic has arrived.

We’ve been speaking about this for weeks on Consumer Choice Radio – at first, the story was about the lies and deceptions of the Chinese Communist Party in the city of Wuhan, where coronavirus first broke out.

Now, it’s about the economic and social toll it will take on billions throughout the globe, and the measures taken by governments to reduce the possibility of further community spread.

Many of you may be working from home now, or quarantined without an opportunity to work.

Most of us will use that time to tune into the news: TV, radio, Internet, and anything else you can get your hands on. And while some of that will be useful, there is nothing positive to be gained from watching the financial news.

Of course, we’re dealing with a Black Swan of a situation: no one saw this coming, and now the markets are reacting.

But if you’re a millennial worker and you’re watching the value of your retirement accounts like your 401(K) flutter like a clipped butterfly, you shouldn’t.

Now is exactly the wrong time to think about trading your positions and investments for cash. And that’s not financial advice, it’s commonsense.

We should keep in mind that the S&P 500 Index (a stock market index of 500 large U.S. companies) has a 7.9% average annual yield – and that’s with all the dips, crashes, recessions, and everything else we’ve seen over the past few decades. The long trend is growth, no matter the news of the day.

The average annual return over any 20-year period is 7.19% (including dividends).

On this chart, you can see the return of each 20-year period (starting from Jan 1950-Jan 1970 until Mar 1995 – Mar 2015).

Our generation is actually quite good at saving for retirement, diversifying more than the baby boomers, so that should position us quite well.

Whatever the impact will be on the S&P or the NASDAQ the next few weeks, it’s bad news bears – for now. But the world will soon get back to normal. Extreme measures are being taken now so they don’t have to be taken later. That’s why we have to Keep Calm and Carry On.

It’s tempting for many young workers to see red arrows pointing downwards and sell, sell, sell on their retirement accounts, but that’s wrong.

We’re living in a temporary moment of extraordinary means and measures. But it’ll soon pass.

Businesses will open back up and serve thirsty, hungry, and demanding customers. Travel will kick back up as people need to get on with their lives. The wedding planners and bakers and baseball stars and bank tellers will be back in their work outfits before we know it.

And once that happens, once the virus has been contained and people feel safe and confident enough to engage in normal commerce, the market will creep back up. The losses of today will be the gains of tomorrow.

That’s why it’s vital to wait it out – don’t become the sucker of the season who sold everything because the news said so.

We’re still living in the great times humanity has ever produced. We’re richer, healthier, live longer, have more information at our fingertips, more material wealth, and can communicate with dozens of people instantaneously with a moment’s notice.

We mustn’t succumb to the fear, and we can’t throw away everything we’ve built up when one small wrench gets thrown our way. Keep Calm, Carry On, and continue saving.

And while you’re self-quarantining, why don’t you listen to the backlog of Consumer Choice Radio episodes? They’re just waiting for you, right now, right here. Or maybe on Spotify. Or Youtube.

Tobacco plain packaging policies have been chasing their own tail

Since 2012, many countries have outlawed branding on tobacco products, and yet more are considering taking this step. One of the most recent examples comes from Ukraine, where a group of parliamentarians have pledged to follow the Australian example of banning all brands by plain packaging as a means of reducing smoking rates. But do such policies actually achieve their desired outcomes?

Regardless of noble motives in place, the failures of plain packaging are numerous and evident. In 2012, Australia passed a nation-wide plain packaging decree. The goal was to reduce smoking rates. During the first years of the ban, more young people started to smoke. The smoking rates among Australians in the age range of 12-24-year-olds increased from 12 per cent in 2012 to 16 per cent in 2013. Little or no improvement was made among people aged 30 or older between 2013 and 2016. People aged 40–49 continued to be the age group most likely to smoke daily (16.9%) and the smoking rates among this age group went up from 16.2% in 2013. At the same time, Australia has seen an enormous increase in roll-your-own cigarettes: 26% in 2007, to 33% in 2013 and to 36% in 2016. 

Plain packaging, like taxation, is intended to push consumers away from particular products considered by governments to be harmful, unhealthy and detrimental to the wellbeing of society. What policymakers tend to overlook, though, is that demand for cigarettes is inelastic and thus neither taxes nor branding bans can substantially affect consumer behaviour. From this perspective, plain packaging coupled with extensive bans on cigarette advertising as a policy solution is useless. Do we really care about the branding of sugar or salt? We buy them anyway.

Smoking has no substitutes per se, but thanks to innovation there are healthier ways to consume nicotine. Vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking and has been endorsed by international health bodies as a safer alternative. Public Health England, New Zealand Ministry of Health and Health Canada have all endorsed vaping for encouraging smokers to switch. 

Governments that try to outlaw smoking and consumer groups such as the Consumer Choice Center have a shared goal: to uphold public health. We are lucky to live at a time when innovative solutions have made it possible for us to find healthier smoking alternatives. Instead of making futile attempts to fight smoking with taxes and plain packaging, we should create conditions under which smokers can opt for vaping and are encouraged to do so through advertising.

Tobacco plain packaging policies have been chasing their own tail. They simply don’t work and end up becoming another ambitious yet flawed policy that sounds great on paper but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.


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

The War On Single Use Plastic Is Sillier Than Ever

Coronavirus (Covid-19) has dominated the news cycle for weeks now. Infection rates are rising, and entire countries like Israel and Italy have enacted severe measures to stop the spread of the virus. That same intensity hasn’t crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, but the private sector has enacted measures to help stop the spread. Coffee giants like Tim Hortons and Starbucks have suspended their “bring your own cup” programs in response to Covid-19. Tim Hortons has taken things one step further and cancelled their iconic Roll Up The Rim program. Even chains like Bulk Barn have halted their container program to help prevent additional exposure.

Despite the rapid spread of Covid-19, environmental groups like Environmental Defence are still waging their war on single use plastic. Environmental Defence, in January, released their wall of shame for companies they feel have not done enough to reduce plastic pollution in Canada. Their list includes major brands like Loblaws, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks. 

The first major flaw in Environmental Defence’s war on plastic is that Canadians are not significant polluters when it comes to plastic marine litter. Up to 95 per cent of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world.

Canada on average, contributes less than 0.01 MT (millions of metric tonnes) of mismanaged plastic waste. In contrast, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines contribute 10.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent of the world’s mismanaged plastic, which is upwards of 300 times Canada’s contribution. China, the world’s largest plastics polluter, accounts for 27.7 percent of the world’s mismanaged plastic. Canada, when compared to European countries like England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, actually contributes four times less in mismanaged plastic. The only European countries on par with Canada are the significantly smaller Sweden, Norway and Finland. Plastics bans might sound productive in terms of plastics pollution, but the evidence doesn’t suggest that Canada is actually a significant contributor for mismanaged plastic, which means that a Canadian ban will do little to actually reduce plastic pollution.

The second issue with Environmental Defence’s war on plastic is that some of their policy suggestions would actually do more harm to the environment. For Loblaws, the group has “shamed” them for not banning all single use plastic bags in their stores. Conventional thinking suggests that banning single-use plastic bags will result in people using reusable bags, and that this reduction in plastic use will have a positive impact on the environment. Research from Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment actually challenged that conventional wisdom when it sought to compare the total impact of plastic bags to their reusable counterparts. 

The Danes found that alternatives to plastic bags came with significant negative externalities. For example, common paper bag replacements needed to be reused 43 times to have the same total impact as a plastic bag. When it came to cotton alternatives, the numbers were even higher. A conventional cotton bag alternative needed to be used over 7,100 times to equal a plastic bag, while an organic cotton bag had to be reused over 20,000 times. We know from consumer usage patterns that the likelihood of paper or cotton alternatives being used in such a way is incredibly unlikely. These results were also largely confirmed with the U.K. government’s own life-cycle assessment, which concluded that these alternatives have a significantly higher total impact on the environment.

The last reason why Environmental Defence’s approach is misguided is that it flat out ignores viable alternatives for dealing with plastic waste. There are simple solutions available to us that don’t involve heavy-handed bans. For those single-use products that are not recyclable and otherwise end up in landfills, we could follow Sweden’s lead, and incinerate that waste. Doing so creates a power source for local communities, while capturing airborne toxins, limiting toxic runoff, and significantly reducing the volume of waste.

Good public policy should address a real problem and should make a meaningful impact on the said problem. Unfortunately, the suggestions made by Environmental Defence would promote higher impact alternatives, and put consumer safety at risk. 



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

Le nouveau rapport de Greenpeace sur les pesticides induit les consommateurs en erreur

Un nouveau rapport de Unearthed – la plateforme de “journalisme d’investigation” de Greenpeace – affirme qu’une grande partie des pesticides vendus aux agriculteurs sont “très dangereux”. Leurs affirmations sont trompeuses et carrément fausses, et peuvent avoir des conséquences potentiellement mortelles.

En collaboration avec l’ONG Public Eye, Unearthed a recueilli “un énorme ensemble de données de 23,3 milliards de dollars de ventes de produits agrochimiques pour les ventes (sic) de pesticides hautement dangereux (HHP)”. Le titre très médiatisé du rapport : 35% des ventes de pesticides les plus importantes sont des HHP, et donc dangereux pour la santé humaine, les animaux et l’environnement. 

En accord avec le principe politique de Greenpeace d’éliminer progressivement toute utilisation de pesticides, la conclusion du rapport est des plus évidents : il faut interdire ces produits.

Ainsi, avant de nous plonger dans les erreurs fondamentales du rapport de Greenpeace, établissons les règles de base de l’acquisition de preuves scientifiques : faire une observation, poser une question, formuler une hypothèse ou une explication vérifiable, faire une prédiction basée sur l’hypothèse et tester la prédiction.

Greenpeace est un groupe militant qui cherche à interdire l’utilisation de tous les pesticides, puisqu’il soutient de tout cœur l’agroécologie. Il viole donc déjà ces règles en commençant par son hypothèse, et non en établissant une hypothèse et en testant la prédiction.

Greenpeace affirme qu’un tiers des ventes de pesticides les plus importantes sont très dangereuses. C’est tout simplement faux.

Le rapport Unearthed s’appuie sur une liste de pesticides établie par le Pesticides Action Network (PAN), une association d’ONG. Le PAN n’est pas une agence gouvernementale, ni un institut de recherche mandaté ou qualifié pour établir ces listes. En fait, il existe une liste de critères de pesticides hautement dangereux établie par l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), mais le PAN a appliqué sa propre logique, liée à son activité militante, déformant la réalité des critères officiels.

Par exemple, sa liste inclut le glyphosate – un herbicide classé comme étant sans danger pour l’utilisation par les agences gouvernementales de sécurité alimentaire – alors qu’aucun des critères de l’OMS ne s’applique. L’utilisation de la classification “très dangereux” est totalement arbitraire et trompeuse.

L’objectif de Greenpeace est d’obtenir des gouvernements qu’ils interdisent les herbicides figurant sur la liste. Curieusement, l’agriculture biologique serait également concernée par cette mesure, puisque la liste de PAN comprend la lambda-cyhalothrine, qui fait partie du pyréthroïde, composé organique autorisé par les labels de l’UE pour l’agriculture biologique (25 substances sont autorisées dans l’UE pour le traitement des cultures biologiques).

Une interdiction par les différents gouvernements ou par l’Union européenne dans son ensemble aurait des conséquences désastreuses.

D’une part, elle créerait un précédent scientifique, en interdisant tout composé sans preuve préalable qu’il présente un risque pour la santé humaine ou l’environnement. En fait, cela pourrait facilement déclencher (et a déjà déclenché) une chasse aux sorcières sur des recherches scientifiquement fondées, et impliquerait qu’il faille déformer la réalité au nom de l’idéologie. En outre, une interdiction pourrait perturber la chaîne d’approvisionnement agricole et augmenter les prix pour les consommateurs.

La sécurité alimentaire étant un facteur vital pour le bien-être des pays en développement, la pression de l’UE en faveur de ces interdictions, aura un impact important en Afrique et en Asie (en raison des négociations commerciales) et pourrait s’avérer dévastateur pour les communautés rurales touchées.

Les consommateurs et les producteurs ont besoin d’herbicides pour se protéger contre les espèces envahissantes. Est-il possible de se débarrasser des produits biochimiques sans provoquer des pertes importantes de rendement des cultures ? Oui, mais les technologies telles que l’édition génétique – qui offrent des alternatives prometteuses – sont très limitées en Europe, comme l’ont révélé le Consumer Choice Center et le Genetic Literacy Project dans leur premier index de réglementation de l’édition génétique

Si les autorités politiques choisissent d’interdir ces produits biochimiques, certains agriculteurs pourraient cherché refuge sur le marché noir. Le commerce de pesticides contrefaits est déjà un jeu dangereux auquel se livrent les agriculteurs dépassés par la réglementation, et une véritable menace pour la sécurité des consommateurs. L’Institut interrégional de recherche des Nations unies sur la criminalité et la justice décrit les pesticides illicites comme “une activité lucrative pour le crime organisé et une menace concrète pour la sécurité, le développement, la santé et l’environnement, et qui nécessite par conséquent une réponse urgente des autorités nationales et régionales, ainsi que de la communauté internationale et des Nations unies”.

De nouvelles interdictions aggraveraient ce problème. 

Nous devrions au contraire approuver des herbicides produits et testés en toute sécurité, qui garantissent la sécurité alimentaire et la santé humaine, plutôt que de promouvoir une “recherche” non scientifique au détriment du choix des consommateurs et de la sécurité des pays en développement.


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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