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Covid-19 will help us identify which regulations are holding back productivity and innovation

At a time like this, those of us who believe in free markets and limited government face challenges in justifying adherence to those principles. It is hard to argue against governments doing “whatever it takes” to combat the spread of the disease and save lives and livelihoods. In fact, as my colleague Christopher Snowdon set out in the Daily Telegraph last week, there is no need to make such arguments. There no inconsistency insupporting individual freedoms in normal times and acceptingcoercive measures by the state in a public health emergency.

Similarly, the massive expansion of the state comprised in the chancellor’s rescue package is broadly welcome for giving people the assurance they need that their homes, incomes and businesses will have some protection in highly unusual circumstances. However, there are many areas where reductions in government intervention should be urgently pursued. 

The New York Times reported that a biotech lab had carried out tests and identified cases of Covid-19 in the Seattle area, well before it was known that the virus had taken hold in the United States. The lab did not have the correct accreditations for this activity from the FDA and was ordered to cease testing. The regulators in the US have since relaxed their position on this, but the question must surely be asked, what was the purpose of the restriction in the first place and how can it be right that it applied so strictly that it actively worked against important research at a vital time?

Europe is also suffering under the burden of pointless bureaucracy in healthcare: the Consumer Choice Center has highlighted that 20 countries in Europe don’t allow online ordering of prescription medicines and 18 require even non-prescription medicines like paracetamol to be sold in pharmacies only. Thankfully the UK is not in the guilty groupof countries in either case, but we still have many regulations that are holding people back from getting the support that they need.

Some steps in that direction are being taken here. The Coronavirus Bill, published yesterday, gives the government emergency powers, but it also suspends various regulations, like the ban on recently retired doctors from returning to work more than 16 hours per week. It reduces the administration tasks and paperwork that health and care workers have to carry out – surely welcome at any time and not something that should take a global crisis to enact.

The Department for Housing Communities and Local Government has announced that planning rules will be relaxed so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways. These are the kind of rules that inspired the hashtag #NeverNeeded, urging Twitter users to identify regulations that are holding back efforts to counter the virus and were surely never needed in the first place. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted that people and organisations should not feel restricted from doing what they need to do to help people because of data protection laws. This is an example of a regulation (the GDPR) that has been shown to be so badly formulated and poorly understood that people are not able to make decisions with certainty as to what is permitted without an ad hoc intervention from the secretary of state.

In my recent paper for the IEA, Rules Britannia, I noted that regulations are often put in place based on quite dubious cost/benefit analysis, and then not reviewed to see if they actually achieved their objective. The way in which regulations have been relaxed as a matter of urgency by governments around the world, in some cases after they have caused serious barriers in battling the spread of the virus, has highlighted this in stark terms. This is also why calls to impose ‘emergency legislation to remove “morally unacceptable” conspiracy theories’ from social media platforms should be resisted. Misinformation at this is time is deeply damaging, but a perception that government is controlling the media to hide things from citizens could be even worse. Knee jerk responses that unnecessarily curtail freedoms run the risk of being counterproductive, and such measures have a history of being be retained long after their original purpose has been forgotten.

When this public health emergency is over, we will need all of the productive capacity and innovation that free markets can provide to ensure that the economy recovers and there are jobs for people to go back to. Wealth is the strongest predictor of health in a society and free economies grow the fastest. If dealing with Covid-19 allows us to identify regulations that are holding back productivity and innovation in healthcare and across the economy as a whole we must not waste the opportunity to re-examine whether they were in fact ever needed.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity for legal reform

Public life is now at a standstill in the United States.

Millions are social distancing and staying at home to avoid further community spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

It’s important to remain positive, but times are tough. Nearly 18% of American households are facing reduced hours or layoffs at work, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Plugging into the 24-hour news cycle and its doomsday predictions doesn’t give many good vibes either.

That said, some government institutions remain on the clock. Legislatures in New Jersey, Wisconsin and dozens of other states still have open sessions to piece together legislation to alleviate their constituents; police officers and mail carriers are still on the job; and hospitals and clinics are working overtime to heal the sick.

All these institutions have had to pivot to the situation at hand and focus on how to react to the effect of the pandemic.

Police officers in cities such as Philadelphia and Lansing, Mich., have been instructed to not pursue low-level nonviolent crime to concentrate resources on the coronavirus. District and federal courts have been shuttered across the nation to do the same, leaving criminal, civil and immigration cases hanging in the balance.

With a huge pause button pressed, what will be the effect on our legal system?

While judges and lawyers have been sent home, there remain thousands of major lawsuits on the docket that could shape much of our lives once all this ends. And that’s important to remember.

Perhaps during this time, we can evaluate what we’d like our nation’s courts to prioritize once they return to normal.

That’s especially important because for every bogus lawsuit about Amazon “price gouging” toilet paper or hand sanitizer companies overstating their claims for killing germs, there are other major trials featuring outright hysteria and moral panic that deny scientific evidence and could lead to sweeping negative changes.

Currently, there are dozens of lawsuits related to the tenuous connection between nicotine pod vaping devices sold by companies such as Juul, and the outbreak of lung illnesses that took place last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out in December and clarified the injuries were caused by vitamin E acetate found in illicit cartridges, but tort lawyers have not been dissuaded. They hope juries will buy emotional arguments over the science.

The same can be said for cases considering whether Johnson & Johnson baby powder contained talc products laced with asbestos, a carcinogen.

One trial in New Jersey is reviewing whether one testimony claiming such will be considered credible scientific evidence, known as the Daubert standard. Multiple scientific studies have yet to prove a link between talc in modern baby powder and any cancer, but previous cases have awarded as much as $4.7 billion to plaintiffs and their attorneys.

Will the judge listen to existing scientific evidence or hired court “experts” who stand to gain from huge payouts?

These are the types of perverse incentives that exist in today’s legal system.

Talk of reforming both criminal justice and tort law have been top of mind for many legal researchers and policy advocates for the past few years, and for good reason.

Much like the anti-scientific tort cases outlined above, too many people have had their lives ruined by nonviolent offenses that have stunted their careers and limited their successes. This legal abuse swarms our legal system and leaves legitimately injured consumers and citizens locked out of the courts.

Not everything deserves to rise to the level of our courts and our legal instruments if there isn’t legitimate harm to our people and communities. It’s the same principle as police officers in Philadelphia and Lansing being instructed to avoid low-level arrests of nonviolent offenders.

When life picks up again, and we deconstruct how our institutions fared in a time of crisis, we will need to ensure important reforms are implemented.

We need tools and reforms to avoid abuse of our nation’s courts by overzealous attorneys and prosecutors alike. That’s a noble goal we can all agree on.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Embracing free trade during a pandemic

Whether we will be able to get back on track on globalisation and economic liberalisation will be one of the most important tests for the post-coronavirus world. While lockdowns introduced by some governments are hopefully not going to stay there indefinitely, the perception of the role of international cooperation is likely to undergo some substantial shifts in the long run. International trade as a key instrument of promoting peace and prosperity will be a first casualty.

The EU-Mercosur agreement and the UK government’s ambition to become a global champion of free trade have become some of the most recent exciting developments. Despite a popular belief that free trade has been in decline for a couple of years, the number of new interventions implemented each year globally has sharply dropped. On the other hand, It would, of course, be desirable to see more liberalising policies instead but sometimes the absence of damaging action is sufficiently good in itself.

Graph Number of Interventions
Source: globaltradealert.org

The outbreak of COVID19 which has shattered the very roots of international cooperation also threatens this dynamic. One after another, countries have turned inwards to deal with the pandemic and shut themselves down from the rest of the world. Lockdowns are a timely reminder that in spite of globalisation – or even hyper globalisation in case of the EU – nation-states remain the driving force of global order. Where does this leave international trade?

International trade has lifted billions out of poverty and benefited consumers of all nations, races, and genders. More importantly, it has encouraged states to look beyond their borders to improve things at home through an increase in choice and lower prices as well as more export opportunities. By facilitating and sustaining integrated supply chains, the success of international trade made states mutually dependent. For better or worse, the concept of the all-producing nation-state was dissolved in international trading relationships.

Trade protectionism originated as an aspiration to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on foreign supplies. At the outset of trade interventionism, uncontrollable factors such as the possibility of crop failure in other countries were used to justify import restrictions and the subsidising of domestic agriculture. The inconsistency of such a worldview was that countries that promoted self-reliance were in no way immune to bad harvests themselves and hence had to turn to others in their hour of need. 

China is currently being affected by 6490 harmful trade interventions, the highest in the world. Ironically, the origin of COVID19 also comes from the city of Wuhan in China. President Trump – known for his extremely hostile attitude to trade with China – even called it the “Chinese virus”. It sounds like an excellent excuse to introduce more tariffs in the future, doesn’t it?

Graph Harmful
Source: globaltradealert.org

The idea of national self-sufficiency sounds great on paper but it is very hard to achieve now that we have progressed so far with globalisation. From iPhones to agriculture and vital drugs, we are dependent on other countries, and especially on China. 

Even in the EU, lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed on national levels have resulted in new border checks causing traffic jams and supply delays. “All our food is getting to the warehouses — with delays — but it’s getting there,” said Bart Vandewaetere, vice president for government relations at Nestlé. In the worst-case scenario, we would be left without food on our shelves. Hence why the first thing governments should do before imposing emergency measures is ensuring the unrestricted and smooth flow of goods. 

We will wake up to a totally different world once the pandemic is over. More countries will likely want to move the needle away from globalisation and mutual dependency to avoid the spread of new viruses in the future. Though trade cannot halt the pandemic, it can help us get through it by ensuring that essentials make it to us thus mitigating some of its consequences. At all times, we need more trade, not less.


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

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity for legal reform

Public life is now at a standstill in the United States.

Millions are social distancing and staying at home to avoid further community spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

It’s important to remain positive, but times are tough. Nearly 18% of American households are facing reduced hours or layoffs at work, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Plugging into the 24-hour news cycle and its doomsday predictions doesn’t give many good vibes either.

That said, some government institutions remain on the clock. Legislatures in New Jersey, Wisconsin and dozens of other states still have open sessions to piece together legislation to alleviate their constituents; police officers and mail carriers are still on the job; and hospitals and clinics are working overtime to heal the sick.

All these institutions have had to pivot to the situation at hand and focus on how to react to the effect of the pandemic.

Police officers in cities such as Philadelphia and Lansing, Mich., have been instructed to not pursue low-level nonviolent crime to concentrate resources on the coronavirus. District and federal courts have been shuttered across the nation to do the same, leaving criminal, civil and immigration cases hanging in the balance.

With a huge pause button pressed, what will be the effect on our legal system?

While judges and lawyers have been sent home, there remain thousands of major lawsuits on the docket that could shape much of our lives once all this ends. And that’s important to remember.

Perhaps during this time, we can evaluate what we’d like our nation’s courts to prioritize once they return to normal.

That’s especially important because for every bogus lawsuit about Amazon “price gouging” toilet paper or hand sanitizer companies overstating their claims for killing germs, there are other major trials featuring outright hysteria and moral panic that deny scientific evidence and could lead to sweeping negative changes.

Currently, there are dozens of lawsuits related to the tenuous connection between nicotine pod vaping devices sold by companies such as Juul, and the outbreak of lung illnesses that took place last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out in December and clarified the injuries were caused by vitamin E acetate found in illicit cartridges, but tort lawyers have not been dissuaded. They hope juries will buy emotional arguments over the science.

The same can be said for cases considering whether Johnson & Johnson baby powder contained talc products laced with asbestos, a carcinogen.

One trial in New Jersey is reviewing whether one testimony claiming such will be considered credible scientific evidence, known as the Daubert standard. Multiple scientific studies have yet to prove a link between talc in modern baby powder and any cancer, but previous cases have awarded as much as $4.7 billion to plaintiffs and their attorneys.

Will the judge listen to existing scientific evidence or hired court “experts” who stand to gain from huge payouts?

These are the types of perverse incentives that exist in today’s legal system.

Talk of reforming both criminal justice and tort law have been top of mind for many legal researchers and policy advocates for the past few years, and for good reason.

Much like the anti-scientific tort cases outlined above, too many people have had their lives ruined by nonviolent offenses that have stunted their careers and limited their successes. This legal abuse swarms our legal system and leaves legitimately injured consumers and citizens locked out of the courts.

Not everything deserves to rise to the level of our courts and our legal instruments if there isn’t legitimate harm to our people and communities. It’s the same principle as police officers in Philadelphia and Lansing being instructed to avoid low-level arrests of nonviolent offenders.

When life picks up again, and we deconstruct how our institutions fared in a time of crisis, we will need to ensure important reforms are implemented.

We need tools and reforms to avoid abuse of our nation’s courts by overzealous attorneys and prosecutors alike. That’s a noble goal we can all agree on.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity for legal reform

Public life is now at a standstill in the United States.

Millions are social distancing and staying at home to avoid further community spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. 

It’s important to remain positive, but times are tough. Nearly 18 percent of American households are facing reduced hours or layoffs at work, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Plugging into the 24-hour news cycle and its doomsday predictions doesn’t give many good vibes either.

That said, some government institutions remain on the clock. Legislatures in New Jersey, Wisconsin and dozens of other states still have open sessions to piece together legislation to alleviate their constituents; police officers and mail carriers are still on the job; and hospitals and clinics are working overtime to heal the sick. All these institutions have had to pivot to the situation at hand and focus on how to react to the effect of the pandemic.

Police officers in cities such as Philadelphia and Lansing, Mich., have been instructed to not pursue low-level nonviolent crime to concentrate resources on the coronavirus. District and federal courts have been shuttered across the nation to do the same, leaving criminal, civil and immigration cases hanging in the balance.

With a huge pause button pressed, what will be the effect on our legal system?

While judges and lawyers have been sent home, there remain thousands of major lawsuits on the docket that could shape much of our lives once all this ends. And that’s important to remember.

Perhaps during this time, we can evaluate what we’d like our nation’s courts to prioritize once they return to normal.

That’s especially important because for every bogus lawsuit about Amazon “price gouging” toilet paper or hand sanitizer companies overstating their claims for killing germs, there are other major trials featuring outright hysteria and moral panic that deny scientific evidence and could lead to sweeping negative changes.

Currently, there are dozens of lawsuits related to the tenuous connection between nicotine pod vaping devices sold by companies such as Juul, and the outbreak of lung illnesses that took place last year. The CDC came out in December and clarified the injuries were caused by vitamin E acetate found in illicit cartridges, but tort lawyers have not been dissuaded. They hope juries will buy emotional arguments over the science.

The same can be said for cases considering whether Johnson & Johnson baby powder contained talc products laced with asbestos, a carcinogen. 

One trial in New Jersey is reviewing whether one testimony claiming such will be considered credible scientific evidence, known as the Daubert standard. Multiple scientific studies have yet to prove a link between talc in modern baby powder and any cancer, but previous cases have awarded as much as $4.7 billion to plaintiffs and their attorneys. 

Will the judge listen to existing scientific evidence or hired court “experts” who stand to gain from huge payouts?

These are the types of perverse incentives that exist in today’s legal system. 

Talk of reforming both criminal justice and tort law have been top of mind for many legal researchers and policy advocates for the past few years, and for good reason. 

Much like the anti-scientific tort cases outlined above, too many people have had their lives ruined by nonviolent offenses that have stunted their careers and limited their successes. This legal abuse swarms our legal system and leaves legitimately injured consumers and citizens locked out of the courts. 

Not everything deserves to rise to the level of our courts and our legal instruments if there isn’t legitimate harm to our people and communities. It’s the same principle as police officers in Philadelphia and Lansing being instructed to avoid low-level arrests of nonviolent offenders.

When life picks up again, and we deconstruct how our institutions fared in a time of crisis, we will need to ensure important reforms are implemented.

We need tools and reforms to avoid abuse of our nation’s courts by overzealous attorneys and prosecutors alike. That’s a noble goal we can all agree on.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

BC should allow online recreational cannabis sales to protect consumers and staff

British Columbians should be allowed the same socially distant transaction options as other provinces

Despite reports of “click-and-collect” services coming to B.C. retail, a recent provincial policy directive still requires customers to go in-store to pay for and pick up their weed.

This new directive falls short of online sales and delivery options available in provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Providing these options would allow B.C. residents, who currently face the country’s highest number of COVID-19 infections, to reduce non-essential physical transactions that have the potential to spread the disease.

Tuesday afternoon’s update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry showed B.C. pulling ahead of Ontario for the first time with a total of 617 confirmed cases, compared to Ontario’s 572. For reference, the population of Ontario is nearly three times that of B.C.

International advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center, who recently called for all provinces to legalize same-day delivery, said such policies would have the added benefit of reducing illicit sales.

Currently, B.C.’s provincial wholesaler holds a monopoly on online recreational cannabis sales. “BC Cannabis Stores: the only place to shop non-medical cannabis online in BC,” reads a slogan on the homepage of its website.

Late Friday, British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) authorized private cannabis retailers to offer non-medical cannabis product reservations online or by phone.

However, the guidance says that reserved products must be paid for and picked up in store.

The move comes after multiple calls from B.C. retailers for the province to allow for cannabis delivery and “click-and-collect” services that are offered in other Canadian provinces.

“It’s hard for us when we don’t have an option,” Muse Cannabis manager Frida Hallgren told Mugglehead in an interview last week. “At times like this it would have been very useful to have a delivery system.”

Unclear how product reservations support social distancing

The term click-and-collect is used to describe retail services where customers buy a product online and then come to collect it, either in-store or at the curbside.

The demand for brick-and-mortar alternatives has expanded rapidly as citizens have been asked, and now ordered, to practice social distancing measures in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With its new expanded emergency powers, the City of Vancouver can now fine businesses up to $50,000 and individuals $1,000 for violating social distancing guidelines.

Muse Cannabis Granville Street Vancouver
Unlike other major provinces, B.C. consumers still need to pay for their weed in-store. Photo by Nick Laba

It’s unclear how the LCRB’s new policy would work to decrease potentially risky social interactions if customers have to meet staff in-store to buy cannabis products.

As its explanation, the branch said no policy direction on non-medical cannabis product reservations was provided previously.

“This policy change now allows licensees to offer reservations of non-medical cannabis products available in their store to customers via their website or by telephone,” it said. “Existing requirements for licensee websites remain and licensees are prohibited from selling non-medical cannabis products online or by telephone. However, licensees may continue online sales of cannabis accessories and gift cards.”

Mugglehead reached out to the B.C. Attorney General’s office on Monday morning about why online sales are not being allowed, and is waiting for comment.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Activist campaign against synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs a pending ‘disaster’ for our food supply

arming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.’ Those were the prescient words of US president Dwight Eisenhower. Today, debate about farming has been colonized by environmental activists with little regard for the realities of farming.

In January, the 11th Oxford Real Farming Conference was held just a few days after the Oxford Farming Conference. Ironically, while the Oxford Farming Conference features actual professionals from the farming, biotech and retail sectors, the Real Farming Conference objects to this approach. The ‘Real’ conference was established to fight against ‘industrial’ agriculture. Instead of ‘big business’, it hosts farmers alongside eco-alarmists and the likes of Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion also protested outside the regular Oxford Farming Conference, dressed in bright red, accusing the attendees of killing the planet.

Many eco-warriors take issue with any farming that is non-organic and, in particular, with the use of pesticides and herbicides. Farmers are using herbicides not to upset activists but in an effort to increase crop yields. These products are necessary and safe. They have been approved by medical agencies, food-safety authorities and governments around the globe.

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What’s more, the kind of organic farming favored by environmentalists is actually bad for the environment. As Chris Bullivant explains on CapX, organic farming produces more greenhouse gases than conventional farming – up to 58 per cent more, in fact.

Nevertheless, the Real Farming Conference promoted an ‘organic transition’ away from the use of copper, plastics and ‘other contentious inputs’. Instead of industrial farming, the conference promotes ‘agroecology’ and ‘peasant farming’ – a back-to-basics approach without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs and herbicides.

An agroecological approach would be a disaster for our food supply. Agroecology researchers themselves admit that this form of agriculture would decrease agricultural production by 35 per cent. But no matter. The activists’ goal is the complete annihilation of conventional intensive farming at any cost.

Modern intensive farming techniques have successfully rid most of our farmland of invasive species and other pests. In the face of this obvious success, the opponents of modern farming have had to stoop to questionable science.At an agroecology conference in Kenya last June, one of the featured speakers was conspiracy theorist Tyrone Hayes. His research gave rise to the conspiracy-monger Alex Jones’s infamous claim that atrazine, a widely used herbicide, ‘turns frogs gay’.

Also promoted as a top-tier speaker was Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French biologist and science correspondent for Le Monde (though he was, in the end, a no-show). Séralini is one of the world’s best-known opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A major anti-GMO study he authored in 2012 has since been retracted and debunked by four government-funded studies (three by the EU and one by France). The scandal became known as the ‘Seralini Affair’. The case against GMOs is based on pseudoscience, but this does not trouble the agroecology movement.

The unfortunate truth is that these agroecology activists are influential. For instance, the head of the UK Soil Association, Gareth Morgan, is regularly quoted in national newspapers. He is agitating for a ban on all pesticides and fertilizers and wants the government to endorse agroecology. Parliament already has an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology. In 2018, Michael Gove, when he was environment secretary, spoke at the Real Farming Conference.

Farming and our food supply are far too important to be sacrificed to the pet projects of conspiracy theorists and radical environmentalists.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Outside the EU, the UK should set its sights on agricultural innovation

Love or hate it, Brexit offers many opportunities for regulatory overhaul. The recently released UK budget gets rid of the tampon tax, a financial instrument long criticised by the feminist movement (and rightfully so). Another tool of regulation which the European Union has long imposed on Britain should now also be axed: the 2001 directive on genetically modified foods. Especially with the current turbulence looming over financial markets, the UK has an obligation to its citizens to allow for better and cheaper food in the shops. New agricultural technologies can make this a reality.

The directive made genetic engineering for the purpose of agriculture practically illegal. Apart from a set of imports and a very select amount of crops, genetic engineering is itself illegal in the EU. Indeed, the language of the legislation is revealing: by calling these foods “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) – which is not a scientific description because genetic engineering describes the process, not the end product – the EU showed that its motivations were political, not scientific. Key features stand out in the legislation, for instance in this definition:

“genetically modified organism (GMO)” means an organism, with the exception of human beings, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination;”

The informed reader might know that crop varieties carrying gene mutations through radiation and chemical treatment would fall under this definition, but they are actually exempt in the same directive. It occurred to the European Union that radioactively treated foods that have existed since the 1950s would be outlawed, and so an exemption was made for this form of mutagenesis. While chemical treatments and radiation are imprecise, newer breeding technologies are not.

And this is where the UK can have an advantage over the sclerotic regulation in the EU. Gene editing, also known as “new breeding technologies (NBT)”, is a newer form of genetic engineering, in which modern technologies (such as gene scissors) are used to edit existing DNA.

Gene editing allows us to either remove, silence or insert genes from within species. This is in contrast to the often criticised transgenesis in which genes of one species are inserted into the DNA of another (hence the slur “Frankenfood”). Gene editing has the potential to make enormous advances for human health and agriculture, through a faster mechanism of editing out undesired genomes. It can be so precise in its genetic engineering, that breeding techniques from the last century appear (and are) random.

We are just at the beginning of discovering precision gene editing but even in its infant stage, it is already the most precise way of eliminating unwanted genes in crops. One example is breeding gluten-free wheat, a blessing for everyone suffering from celiac disease.

In a press release by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) earlier this month, scientists explain that the current EU rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO) are not fit for purpose anymore. In a court ruling in 2018, the European court of justice had decided that new breeding technologies should be considered as GMOs, and would, therefore, be outlawed in the EU. 

The EASAC explains that current GMO classifications lack a scientific foundation. Robin Fears, head of the EASAC’s biosciences programme explains:

“A lot has happened since the first regulations have been adopted almost 20 years ago. Reform must strengthen the use of scientific evidence and tackle future uncertainties. In parallel, we need a continued and transparent discussion of the critical, including ethical, issues to build trust between scientists and the public.”

As scientists are battling the European Union to change legislation – which is provenly lengthy and hijacked by anti-science campaigners such as Greenpeace – the UK has a unique opportunity to bypass this challenge and scrap the 2001 directive altogether. Westminster could create its own set of rules, allowing for a fast-tracked authorisation process on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to sweeping and unscientific generalisations by Brussels.

In a time of economic uncertainty, genetic engineering gives us the opportunity to make food safer, cheaper and more affordable. Evidence shows that genome editing has benefits for nutrition and productive, low-pesticide and resource-conserving agriculture. If the government seeks to combine its efforts for improved purchase power, while reducing its CO2 emissions and cutting (now necessary) crop protection tools, then it should look to cut red tape on vital agricultural technology.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

En telcolobby hekelt netneutraliteit in coronatijd

Europees afknijpverzoek aan Netflix is ‘onnodig, en de schuld van netneutraliteit’.

“De EU dwingt het internet om langzamer te zijn, dankzij netneutraliteit”, luidt de boodschap van het Consumer Choice Center. Het beperken van de snelheid en kwaliteit van online-diensten zoals Netflix zou niet alleen onnodig zijn, maar ook schadelijk voor alle Europese consumenten die nu thuiszitten en thuiswerken. Aldus deze Amerikaanse lobbygroep die de belangen behartigt van onder meer sigarettenfabrikanten en telecomaanbieders.

Het verzoek van Eurocommissaris Thierry Breton aan Netflix om videokwaliteit terug te schroeven, wordt door het Consumer Choice Center geïnterpreteerd als EU-bevel wat onnodig en schadelijk is. Breton heeft afgelopen week in een tweet laten weten dat hij Netflix-CEO Reed Hastings heeft verzocht om naar standaardresolutie ‘terug te schakelen’ wanneer HD-video niet echt nodig is. Dit uit voorzorg om mogelijke overbelasting te voorkomen door thuiswerken en videostreamen bij zelf-quarantine en lockdowns in EU-landen.

Lobbygroep Consumer Choice Center stelt in een rondgemaild persbericht vandaag dat de Eurocommissaris voor de interne markt digitale streamingdiensten en dienstverleners heeft gevraag om hun bandbreedte te beperken tijdens de COVID-19 crisis. “Dit bevel is gegeven ondanks bewijs dat breedbandcapaciteit nog lang niet aan zijn grenzen zit”, aldus de in Brussel gevestigde organisatie. Bij deze stellingname over bandbreedtegrenzen verwijst het lobbycentrum naar een artikel in Engadget over Bretons tweet.

‘Geen problemen in UK, India en China’

Daarin stellen Vodafone UK en Telecom Italia dat er toenemend internetverkeer met andere pieken in de netwerkbelasting zijn, maar geen berichten van wijdverbreide uitval. Ook een tweet van de Britse security-expert Kevin Beaumont over bandbreedtebelasting in Manchester wordt aangehaald door Engadget, wat weer wordt aangehaald door het Consumer Choice Center. De lobbygroep voor onder meer de tabaks- en telecomindustrie linkt in zijn protesterende persbericht tegen het afknijpverzoek van de EU ook naar een artikel in The Indian Express.

Daarin worden meetresultaten van snelheidsmeetdienst Ookla belicht, voor vaste en mobiele breedbandverbindingen in bepaalde Aziatische landen. Daaronder China, waar het nieuwe coronavirus voor het eerst is losgebarsten, en India, Japan en Maleisië. In die landen was er vooralsnog geen sprake van grote stijgingen in het gebruik van bandbreedte sinds het uitbreken van COVID-19. “Zelfs in Italië, dat al weken in lockdown verkeert, zijn er geen meldingen van wijdverbreide storingen”, vervolgt het Consumer Choice Center zijn boodschap.

Marktwerking en netneutraliteit

Volgens topman Luca Bertoletti geven alle grote telecomproviders in Europa aan dat ze stabiele, sterke en snelle verbindingen leveren aan consumenten, en dat die dat zeer waarderen. “Tegelijkertijd vragen de Europese beleidsmakers bedrijven om hun internetdiensten te vertragen voor alle Europeanen, wat duidelijk onnodig is en schadelijk voor alle consumenten die vertrouwen op snelle internetverbindingen voor hun werk en hun privé bestaan”, aldus Bertoletti die ook lid is van een rechtse denktank die vóór vrije marktwerking is. De forse financiering voor het Consumer Choice Center zou ook vanuit rechtse hoek komen.

Adjunct-directeur Yaël Ossowski van het Consumer Choice Center wijst in het ook online gepubliceerde persbericht nu Europese netneutraliteit aan als de boosdoener. “Dit scenario in Europa is exact de reden waarom de Verenigde Staten in 2018 netneutraliteitsregulering heeft herroepen.” Hij spreekt van ‘beleefde dwang’ die overheidsinstanties uitoefenen op digitale bedrijven om streamingdiensten van lagere kwaliteit te leveren.

‘Verkeer overlaten aan telcombedrijven’

“Dat is niet alleen slecht publiek beleid, maar het toont ook aan waarom breedbandproviders en niet overheidsregelgevers het beste gepositioneerd zijn om ons online-verkeer te dirigeren, of dat nu in normale tijden is of in tijden van crisis.” Ossowski uit de hoop dat dit mensen tot nadenken zet wat betreft steun voor verdere overheidsregulering van het internet en digitale diensten.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

COVID-19 and craft beer: Normally only 12 states allow delivery of all alcohol. Why is that?

COVID-19 has exposed many holes in America’s state alcohol laws. Maryland just suspended its shortsighted craft beer carryout purchase limits because it only legally allowed one case per customer. The likes of Colorado, California and even Texas are allowing bars and restaurants now to sell alcohol to-go, which is not normally legal, and now the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing distilled spirits permittees to produce hand sanitizer. Let freedom ring.

But without the current COVID-19 crisis this would normally not happen. Do you know how many states normally allow alcohol delivery legally? According to Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), in a recent press release:

“Consumers can order thousands of household products and food from the internet, but prohibitions on shipping alcohol remain on the books. Instead of emergency laws allowing home delivery of alcohol for a short period of time, states should immediately move to make these laws permanent to increase consumer choice for every American. At present, 12 states allow for some method of delivery of all alcohol, and 31 states allow wine and beer to be purchased and shipped to consumers’ homes. Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Deleware currently bar alcohol deliveries to personal residences.

“Allowing for alcohol delivery will help consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak in the short term, but will also help boost economic activity and increase competition and options for consumers in the long term,” said Ossowski. “There are dozens of innovative apps and online services like Drizly and Thirstie that are beginning to offer alcohol delivery in real-time, but the legal status is uncertain.”

States should allow alcohol delivery and to-go purchases beyond this crisis

If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at home right now — just like millions of other Americans in the face of COVID-19. State alcohol restrictions are being temporarily lifted via emergency declarations issued by state legislators to help support restaurants and small businesses that will not normally be allowed to deliver alcohol to people’s homes or sell them to-go. Feels like now is a good time to make that permanent.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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