science

Battle of the Experts: Judge tosses portions of testimony in J&J talc trial

For the last year, we’ve dedicated a good amount of space in our campaigns advocating for significant reform when it comes to both the U.S. tort law system and the science that is used in courts.

With most courts closed due to COVID-19, that afforded us an opportunity to better dive into one case that’s grabbing headlines: one of the many talc lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, which we’ve written about before.

Plaintiffs in multiple lawsuits claim their baby powder products contained elements of asbestos in the talc, the main ingredient in hundreds of cosmetic products, food additives, and lubricants, and therefore can cause cancer.

Because these lawsuits have been inundated with scientific testimony from all sides, a judge in a Federal District Court in New Jersey held a Daubert hearing, examining the methodologies and credibility of the science presented in the case.

For those interested in countering junk science in the courts, this is a big one.

The Daubert opinion, written by Chief Judge Freda Wolfson, sheds a lot of light on the process of determining whether certain expert analysis can be entered as evidence for juries to consider.

In this specific case in New Jersey, all experts from the plaintiff-side who had part of their testimonies thrown out because their methodologies were questionable or they made claims they couldn’t back up. All defense witnesses will be heard without reservations.

Overall, there’s a lot of “Battle of the Experts” here, and it makes for fascinating reading.

There was a lot of debate about the strength of weakness of “epidemiological studies” – tell me if you’ve heard about those recently – and about whether expert witnesses were basing their testimonies on “subjective belief or unsupported speculation”.

Specifically, one of the main witnesses says talcum powder causes inflammation in certain cells, and then uses that to claim it’s carcinogenic. Chief Judge Wolfson torches him for his claim without causation.

“For all these reasons, the Court finds that Dr. Saed’s opinion that talc causes ovarian cancer is unsupported by the findings of his study—which can only arguably demonstrate that use of talcum powder causes inflammation in ovarian cells.”

Chief Judge Freda Wolfson, Daubert opinion, pg. 24

Second, because there was no transformation of the cell under experimentation, which is usually how we can prove a link to cancer, the judge called his conclusions “unreliable”.

What is more, Dr. Saed’s findings with respect to CA-125 further demonstrate that his opinion with respect to ovarian cancer causation is unreliable.

Chief Judge Freda Wolfson, Daubert opinion, pg. 56

The second main expert witness gets knocked down for producing scientific experiments that can in no way be replicated. The judge points out that each additional attempt at replication came up with a negative for asbestos, which is claimed to be the carcinogen in focus.

“Without that information, which is internally created by MAS, reproducing Dr. Longo’s test under the PLM would not be possible, and hence, the testing is unreliable…J-3’s PLM analysis was negative for asbestos for each sample.”

Chief Judge Freda Wolfson, Daubert opinion, pg. 23

It’s obviously very difficult for courts to examine and establish good science from bad science.

That’s why Daubert hearings are supposed to weigh methodologies, like disproven bite-mark analysis or tire tracks (as many Netflix series are now exposing).

A lot of junk science is taken as fact because it’s in the courtroom, and that’s wrong. That’s exactly what was explained to us last week on Consumer Choice Radio by Jerry Buting, the famed attorney of Steven Avery from the series Making a Murderer.

What we know is that science is a powerful tool to use in lawsuits that affect millions of consumers or innocent people’s lives, but it can be flawed and have bad consequences.

For that reason, we need good legal reform in each state’s tort system to ensure we can uphold good scientific evidence. Justice depends on it.

A full embed of the Daubert opinion can be found here:

Des départements fédéraux participent à l’obscurantisme dans l’agriculture

OPINION. A travers la promotion d’une agroécologie inefficace et antiscientifique, la Suisse prend des décisions de politique de développement contraires à ses propres recherches scientifiques, écrit Bill Wirtz, analyste de politiques publiques pour le Consumer Choice Center

Pourquoi les institutions suisses participent-elles à la promotion de l’agro-écologie — technologie qui réduit les rendements agricoles pour les pays les plus pauvres?

L’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture (ONUAA) s’est donnée comme objectif la promotion d’une alimentation saine et accessible dans le monde. En vue des difficultés existantes dans des continents comme l’Afrique, l’organisation située à Rome s’engage à redéfinir la politique de développement, dans laquelle sont investies la Suisse ainsi que l’Union européenne. Le Committee on World Food Security (CFS) (comité pour la sécurité alimentaire) vient de terminer sa conférence annuelle, au cours de laquelle elle a développé des idées pour promouvoir une meilleure agriculture pour le monde. Le comité est censé promouvoir la convergence politique sur ce sujet. 

Lors d’un événement parallèle, la Direction du développement et de la coopération (DDC), qui est agence de coopération internationale de la Confédération, s’exprime en faveur du système d’agro-écologie. La description de l’événement indique :

“L’agroécologie représente une alternative pour relever un certain nombre de défis dans la poursuite de la santé humaine et planétaire.

L’objectif de cet événement parallèle est d’explorer de façon holistique les liens entre les systèmes alimentaires et la nutrition. Faut-il seulement produire plus ou faut-il aussi produire et consommer mieux ?”

Au premier abord, rien de contestable dans cette déclaration. Qui ne voudrait pas produire de façon plus saine? Mais en coulisses, les problèmes s’accumulent.

L’agro-écologie décrit un ensemble de points de vue sur l’agriculture, et demande une sorte de “back to basics” sur nos méthodes. Pour ses partisans, l’agriculture prospère lorsqu’elle travaille avec les écosystèmes locaux, par exemple en améliorant la qualité des sols et des plantes grâce à la biomasse et à la biodiversité disponibles, plutôt qu’en luttant contre la nature avec des intrants chimiques. Les agriculteurs agro-écologiques cherchent par là à : améliorer les rendements alimentaires pour une alimentation équilibrée, à renforcer les marchés équitables pour leurs produits, à améliorer la santé des écosystèmes et à tirer parti des connaissances et coutumes ancestrales. L’expression “peasant farming” (l’agriculture paysanne) et utilisée de façon récurrente par ces activistes.

Une étude récente menée par des militants pro-agroécologie a montré que l’application de leurs principes à l’Europe réduirait la productivité agricole de 35% en moyenne. Dans des pays en voie de développement, une telle réduction du rendement agricole serait fatale. Il s’avère que la DDC a aussi contribué à l’organisation d’une conférence pro-agroécologie à Nairobi, Kenya au mois de juin. Cette “Conférence internationale sur l’agroécologie transformant les systèmes agricoles et alimentaires en Afrique” présentait des orateurs scientifiquement controversés. Parmi ces orateurs figurent les scientifiques Don Huber et Judy Carmen, qui ont tous deux fait des déclarations non-scientifiques – et tout aussi discréditées – sur les OGM. Tyrone Hayes, qui est célèbre pour son affirmation, maintenant défendue par Alex Jones, le conspirationniste de InfoWars, selon qui l’herbicide atrazine “rend les grenouilles homosexuelles” y était également.

Le message de cette conférence?  Le génie génétique, les pesticides de dernière génération et les engrais synthétiques sont tous mauvais; il faut donc revenir à l’agriculture de nos ancêtres.  Sur le glyphosate, ni l’Autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments (EFSA), ni l’Agence européenne des produits chimiques (ECHA) ont confirmé l’accusation écologiste que le produit est carcinogène. Sur la modification génétique, le Fond national suisse de la recherche scientifique a conduit une des études les plus importantes dans le domaine, notamment dans le Programme national de recherche PNR 59, mandaté par le Conseil fédéral. 

Dans leurs recherches, ces scientifiques n’ont pas trouvé de conséquences néfastes provenant du génie génétique. Ils soulignent qu’ils n’ont pas trouvé des effets négatifs, ce qui confirme les conclusions d’autres organes de recherches internationaux.

L’étude confirme aussi la différence entre les OGM et le génie génétique, décrit par les écologistes comme OGM par la porte derrière. Les scientifiques suisses ajoutent même : “De nouvelles méthodes dans le génie génétique vert sont en mesure de contribuer à l’amélioration de la biosécurité.”

Les écologistes prétendent qu’il s’agirait d’activer le principe de précaution. Mais à quoi bon toute déclaration d’intention sur la précaution, si aucune recherche scientifique ne réussira à les convaincre? La Suisse n’est-elle pas prête à écouter ses propres scientifiques?

Pire encore, à travers des propres agences, et à travers la promotion d’une agro-écologie inefficace et anti-scientifique, la Suisse prend des décisions de politique de développement contraires à ses propres recherches scientifiques. Trouble dissociatif de l’identité ou dissonance cognitive, les électeurs doivent se demander à quoi servent leurs dépenses d’impôts si l’Etat ignore ses propres experts. Qui prendra la responsabilité de convaincre des paysans africains d’adopter des modèles agricultures que nous savons être les moins efficaces?

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.

Anti-science narratives must not be allowed to take root

Our ancestors lived through struggles that are hard to imagine by today’s standards. From putting food on the table to tuberculosis and infections (from which most people died in 1915), life 100 years ago was hellish compared to the developed comfort of the modern day.

With an understanding of the value of personal hygiene, tools to root out disease-carrying animals like rats, and the blessing of modern medicine, humanity has saved millions of people from dying prematurely.

For most of human history, one in four infants did not live past the age of one, a phenomenon spread equally throughout cultures. The numbers were equally high in ancient Rome, ancient Greece, the pre-Columbian Americas, medieval Japan, medieval England, the European renaissance and imperial China.

Fortunately, today that number is only one in 30 infants. As economic freedom spreads globally, so does prosperity, and we expect that infant mortality will be equally low in every inhabited continent in the near future.

Despite facing initial hurdles and scepticism towards scientific advancements, the industrial revolution has brought enormous wealth creation and the improvement and expansion of people’s lives. Life expectancy in the United Kingdom has doubled from just over 40 years in 1850 to over 80 years today.

In the UK, 77 per cent of the public agree that science and technology are making our lives healthier, easier and more comfortable. 94 per cent believe that medical research will improve our quality of life over the coming decades. This also applies to the younger generation, of which 80 per cent are happy with modern farming technologies in the area of genetic modification or gene editing.

However, recent years have also marked the appearance of a number of activists who are trying to sour these numbers. And while the public is supportive of scientific innovations, politicians are reacting to a loud minority and regulating away potential progress.

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has sparked some optimism in that regard, promising “a bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules … we will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet.”

This goes beyond the question of agro-tech or artificial intelligence. As trust in the scientific method fades, so do other fundamentals that we believed should be taken for granted.

In the Netherlands, the Knowledge and Advice Centre for Animal Pest warns in major newspapers that new infestations of rats are looming as the country moves to restrict the use of rat poison from 2023. It has already been banned in outdoor areas, but now indoor use will also be outlawed, as reports Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

The examples of people giving up accepted advancements in living standards get odder by the day. In early August, the Guardian reported on a trend of decreasing soap use. While making a case for bacteria-based substitutes, it also equally presents a case for dropping any detergents whatsoever.

Increasingly, you read headlines like: “No Soap, No Shampoo, No Problem”, or “Soap free for seven years“. In all cases, the soap ditchers are presented as people who are potentially ahead of their time, living the alternative and equally credible lifestyle. But much like people who swear by DIY cleaning products, we should be wary of unforeseen consequences of distrust in science.

The same applies to the example of parabens, increasingly believed to be a harmful addition to health and beauty products, particularly those used by women.

However, Health Canada, the Personal Care Products Council, the FDA, the American Cancer Society and the European Union all find parabens to be safe for use in cosmetics. Unfortunately, a number of people will not accept the findings of numerous studies.

Of course, using hygienic and medical utensils in excess is something to be mindful of because it can pose a danger. An excess of antibiotics can lead to immunity issues and more serious health consequences. However, the notion that all modern medical, pest control and hygiene products must be harmful, independent of quantity and informed use, is a very problematic mindset.

Is it really necessary that previously extinct illnesses return because, in an effort to please a woke sense of anti-corporate, anti-consumerist purity, we end the use of soap and have rats crawling once again through our houses?

What are our leaders and politicians doing to defend the values of science, which has given us the life-changing advances in modern medicine since the 18th century and has ended the unscientific herbalism, or traditional medicine, that lead to the death of millions?

We cannot let these anti-science narratives to take root. Instead, we must encourage informed debate and education to combat this modern-day charlatanism.

Originally published here.


FOR MORE SCIENCE FACTS CLICK 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 GM is a great way to tackle climate change

Dr Swapan Datta at the International Rice Research Institute. Embracing GM is a great way to tackle climate change
Dr Swapan Datta at the International Rice Research Institute Photo: Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images

Labour’s pledge to ban private jets over their environmental impact may be pure electoral politics, but it’s also a timely reminder to think about the best approach to tackling climate change and environmental breakdown.

There are two main ways to respond to an emergency situation: set off alarm bells in an effort to neutralise the danger quickly, or take a step back to properly assess the issue without giving in to emotional pressure.

In the case of climate change, the former approach has clearly taken over. The likes of Extinction Rebellion warn of imminent doom, and Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez predicts the end of the world in little over a decade. Their ‘solutions’, such as trying to decarbonise the entire British economy in a little over five years, also reek of alarmism.

Climate change alarmism has been immensely successful in promoting all sorts of bans, dietary restrictions, and taxes. These measures are far from being a panacea, especially in the long run. Moreover, in order to achieve the desired outcomes, they need to be applied consistently and at all levels of government. It is for this reason that they’re doomed to fail: there will always be free-riders, those who would find a way to stick to their meat-full diet or avoid paying taxes.

Beyond this kind of alarmism, one of the most effective ways to fight climate change is through innovation in agriculture.

Organic farming is appealing because it’s “natural” and therefore, associated with higher food safety, but it can potentially do more harm than good if we choose to stick to it. In 2017, researchers at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland estimated that if the world chose to fully convert to organic agriculture, we would need between 16 and 81% more land to feed the planet.

Over-reliance on limited natural resources, as in the case of organic farming, is significantly more dangerous than taxes. The world’s population is growing, and we need food. Promoting organic promises to provide less of it just at the time we need it most.

The good news is that unleashing the potential of genetic engineering, far from a ‘Frankenstein’ technology, is a powerful weapon in the fight against environmental breakdown. With the help of genome editing, we would be able to decrease our dependence on natural resources and minimise the use of both fertilisers and pesticides. Creating drought and heat-tolerant crops would reduce the need to deforest wild areas to free up more land for agricultural purposes. And we could help tackle overfishing by replacing fish oil with EPA/DHA canola (omega-3 fatty acids).

The benefits of genetic engineering are astounding, but they are very often dismissed because of unproven food safety claims and risks associated with altering the face of agriculture. Scientists have repeatedly rejected the idea that gene-edited foods are less safe than those grown conventionally. The real issue, it seems, is human resistance to change, coupled with ill-informed, unscientific scare stories.

The human cost of this resistance to change can be staggering. Take golden rice: a new book estimates that millions of people have died or gone blind unnecessarily because they were denied access to this miraculous food by a combination of over-zealous regulation and misguided anti-GM campaigning.

This is nothing new, of course. Throughout history, people have been sceptical, or even fearful, of innovation. And yet, it has persisted against all odds and improved our lives in once unimaginable ways. We should stand up to the alarmists and give genetic engineering a chance to feed the world – and help save the planet.


For more facts on Health and Science, check our other articles 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

#Environment needs saving through innovation, not starvation

As the winter times come closer, people resume their arguments about the thermostat at home. While there is great convenience that comes with heating, it also comes at an environmental cost. Environmental protection and development are, undoubtedly, both a necessary and noble cause, and while we may sometimes disagree with the fearmongering or reactionism that comes with eco-politics, it’s a wonderful thing to see consumer preferences gravitate towards greener alternatives, writes Bill Wirtz.

It is through changes in consumer attitudes that force innovations to become safer, more sustainable, and just generally ‘green-er’. The same however also applies to price: as companies attempt to reduce prices, their incentives force them towards the use of less energy. This is what we’ve seen happen to cars, which have seen fuel efficiency double since the 70s, or air travel, which has seen 45% less fuel burn since the 1960s.

The beauty of consumer-driven innovation is that it comes naturally through the marketplace. In the area of food, we’ve seen immense strives towards safer, more affordable, and less energy-consuming crops. With current agro-tech innovations, like through gene-editing, this becomes a promising prospect. However, the political world seems unimpressed with innovation, and more interested in reacting to fear-mongering. Nowhere are the dangerous effects of this felt more than in the developing world. Advanced countries with good intentions ignore the needs and abilities of poorer nations in the name of pretended environmental protection.

Take, for instance, a recent conference, jointly held in Kenya by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Preservation Center. The ‘First International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa’ aims to implement the policies of ‘Agroecology’ throughout the continent.

The “agroecology” touted by the conference refers to a more ‘organic’ style of farming, one that is free (or, at least, less dependent upon) synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. In many parts of Africa, where this conference had its attention, this could have devastating. It should come as no surprise that agroecological methods of farming are, typically far less efficient than the modern, mechanised alternative (a conclusion reached in a study performed by agroecological advocates).

On a continent that has long been plagued with poor economic growth and, far more seriously, severe famines and food shortages, taking the risk of switching to less-productive methods in the name of the environment would be blind to the necessities of a developing economy. Viewed simply, one could easily label this worldview and prescription as arrogant. If people in developed countries (or anywhere else for that matter) wish to establish an organic, agroecological farm to promote a more environmentally-friendly system, then more power to them. But we simply cannot expect this to apply to developing countries such as those in Africa. Bringing sustainable practices and technologies to the developing world should be achieved through increased scientific innovation, stimulating economic growth and development.

Following Brexit, the UK will be in an ideal position to do this without the restraints of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and biotech regulations, which has made trade with farmers in developing countries, as well innovative crops domestically, impossible to achieve. While the hearts of those arguing for “agroecology” are certainly in the right place, we need to understand that their suggestions threaten the chances of developing economies to grow and develop.

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.

Une nouvelle initiative européenne pro-science mérite le support public

Une nouvelle initiative citoyenne de l’UE organisée par des étudiants exige un processus d’autorisation scientifique rationalisée dans le domaine de l’agriculture. Ils méritent d’être entendus et soutenus.

Le 25 juillet, la Commission européenne a enregistré l’initiative citoyenne “Grow Scientific Progress : Crops Matter !” (“grandir l’innovation scientifique: les cultures sont importantes”). Deux étudiantes sont nommées comme représentantes, à savoir Martina Helmlinger et Lavinia Scudiero. Helmlinger est sur le point de terminer sa maîtrise en “sécurité de la chaîne alimentaire” à l’Institut des sciences et technologies alimentaires de l’Université des ressources naturelles et des sciences de la vie de Vienne, et possède une licence en biotechnologie. Scudiero est diplômée en médecine vétérinaire, elle s’intéresse à la sécurité alimentaire, et elle poursuit actuellement une maîtrise en sécurité alimentaire, le droit alimentaire et affaires réglementaires à l’Université de Wageningen.

Dans l’argumentaire de l’initiative, les deux étudiants soutiennent que la directive 2001/18/CE de l’UE est dépassée, et suggèrent un mécanisme automatique pour la réviser. L’objectif est de rationaliser la procédure d’autorisation de mise sur le marché, désormais longue et coûteuse, et de permettre davantage de progrès scientifiques dans l’UE. Les évaluations individuelles, par opposition aux définitions générales, aident à permettre l’arrivée de nouvelles technologies sur le marché.

Comme l’explique Marcel Kuntz, directeur de recherche au CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) à Grenoble : “L’agro-biotechnologie n’est pas un mode de production agricole, c’est un moyen d’accroître la biodiversité. Ce qui est important, c’est ce qu’on fait d’un produit, pas comment on l’a obtenu.” Kuntz se plaint aussi des attaques contre les scientifiques et que la sûreté des innovations scientifiques est définie à travers un débat politique.

Le débat sur l’innovation en agriculture a été pris en otage par des communicateurs professionnels qui ont tout fait pour calomnier l’innovation technologique. C’est un phénomène médiatique problématique — pour chaque innovation on nous parle longuement des risques potentiels (souvent imaginaires), en oubliant les opportunités énormes.

Cela affecte même les outils de communication des institutions de l’UE, visible dans le débat des OGM. Sur le site web “Legislative Train Schedule” (“calendrier du train législatif”) du Parlement européen, les rapporteurs des directives sont censés expliquer de manière neutre la ligne d’action législative. C’est un outil qui transmet l’information aux citoyens de façon non partisane.

Frédérique Ries, membre belge du Parlement européen, n’a pas pris ce travail très au sérieux. Dans un article sur le site résumant la directive (UE) 2015/412, elle écrit :

“Le Parlement européen a également insisté pour que les États membres, dans lesquels des cultures GM sont cultivées, évitent la contamination transfrontalière en établissant des zones tampons le long de leurs frontières avec les États membres voisins dans lesquels les OGM ne sont pas cultivés.”

La vérité est que des organisations comme Greenpeace mentent sur les OGM depuis des décennies. Ils expliquent que les OGM représentent des “risques inacceptables”, sans mettre en évidence des preuves scientifiques soulignant ce risque. Ils écrivent par exemple:

“Les cultures génétiquement modifiées n’ont pas leur place dans l’agriculture durable. Ils comportent des risques inacceptables créés par le processus de génie génétique.”

Les mêmes ONG qui se sont assurées que l’UE n’utiliserait pas de cultures génétiquement modifiées ont également célébré une affaire devant la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne, dans laquelle il est dit que le génie génétique devrait être traité de la même manière que les OGM. Greenpeace décrit le génie génétique comme “OGM par la porte de derrière”.

Le chef de l’Autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments (EFSA), Dr. Bernhard Url, explique qu’il ne faut pas “tirer sur la science” si on n’aime pas les résultats en question. Il ajoute que “si la science ne devient qu’une opinion de plus, qui peut être négligée en faveur de la superstition, cela comporte un risque énorme pour la société”.

Il a raison. Le génie génétique offre déjà de nombreux avantages à l’amélioration génétique, par exemple en créant des aliments sans allergènes. Imaginez l’immense changement pour les personnes atteintes d’allergies potentiellement mortelles, si nous parvenons à créer des arachides sans allergènes ou du blé sans gluten. Cependant, ces applications dépassent le domaine de l’agriculture. Le génie génétique peut aider à combattre le virus Zika, à prévenir la transmission du paludisme, à guérir la leucémie et montre des recherches prometteuses dans les domaines de la maladie d’Alzheimer, de la maladie de Huntington, du cancer du col utérin et du cancer du poumon.

Le génie génétique risque d’être victime de la même peur non scientifique que les OGM. D’autres continents innovent alors que l’Europe s’enfonce dans un fossé technologique. 

L’initiative Grow Scientific Progress peut aider à aller à l’encontre de cette évolution. L’Union européenne doit s’ouvrir à l’innovation scientifique afin de saisir les opportunités passionnantes de demain.


Publié à l’origine ici:

Greenpeace verbreitet seit Jahrzehnten über GVO Unwahrheiten

Eine neue EU-Bürgerinitiative fordert einen modernisierten Zulassungsprozess wissenschaftlicher Innovationen in der Landwirtschaft. Diese europaweite studentische Initiative verdient es gehört und unterstützt zu werden.

Am 25. Juli registrierte die Europäische Kommission die Bürgerinitiative “Grow Scientific Progress: Crops Matter!” Zwei Studentinnen wurden als Vertreter genannt: Martina Helmlinger und Lavinia Scudiero. Helmlinger steht kurz vor dem Abschluss ihres Masters in Lebensmittelsicherheit am Institut für Lebensmittelwissenschaften und -technologie der Universität für Bodenkultur in Wien und verfügt über einen Bachelor-Abschluss in Biotechnologie. Scudiero hat einen Abschluss in Veterinärmedizin und absolviert derzeit einen Master in Lebensmittelsicherheit, Lebensmittelrecht und Regulierung an der Universität Wageningen.

Die beiden Studentinnen argumentieren in der Beschreibung der Initiative, dass die EU-Richtlinie 2001/18/EG, die sich mit GBO (genetisch veränderten Organismen) befasst, veraltet ist, und schlagen einen automatischen Mechanismus zur Überprüfung dieser Regeln vor. Ziel ist es, die langwierigen und kostspieligen Zulassungsverfahren für landwirtschaftliche Innovationen zu entschlacken und mehr wissenschaftlichen Fortschritt in der EU zu ermöglichen.

Individuelle Bewertungen, bei denen einzelnen Technologien auf ihre Eigenschaften bewertet werden – im Gegensatz zu weit gefassten Definitionen – tragen dazu bei, dass neue Technologien auf den Markt kommen.

Marcel Kuntz, Forschungsdirektor am CNRS, Zell- und Pflanzenphysiologielabor in Grenoble erklärt, dass die grüne Gentechnik ist kein landwirtschaftlicher Produktionsmodus, sondern ein Mittel zur Steigerung der Biodiversität sei. Er fügt hinzu, dass es wichtig sei, was mit einem Produkt gemacht wird, nicht, wie das Produkt gewonnen wurde. Kuntz beklagt sich auch über Angriffe auf Wissenschaftler und “politische Kämpfe”, die definieren, was als sicher gilt und was nicht.

Die Debatte über Innovationen in der Landwirtschaft wurde der Wissenschaft von PR-Profis  aus der Hand gerissen. Diese Kommunikationsprofis aus Politik und Umweltverbänden tun alles, um technologische Innovationen ohne Beweise zu verleumden. Dies betrifft sogar die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit der EU-Institutionen und war jedes Mal sichtbar, wenn die Frage der GVO angesprochen wurde. Insbesondere im Hinblick auf die Schaffung neuer Gesetze kann dies beobachtet werden.

Auf der Website des Europäischen Parlaments “Legislative Train Schedule” sollen Richtlinien und deren gesetzlicher Ablauf neutral erläutert werden. Es ist ein steuerfinanziertes Instrument, dass den Bürgern Informationen auf unparteiische Weise vermitteln soll.

Das ist aber nicht immer der Fall. In Zusammenfassung der Richtlinie (EU) 2015/412, Änderung der Richtlinie 2001/18/EG,  die Mitgliedstaaten ermächtigt GVOs unabhängig von neuen Erkenntnissen verbieten zu dürfen, heißt es:

“Das Europäische Parlament hat auch darauf bestanden, dass die Mitgliedstaaten, in denen GVO-Kulturen angebaut werden, eine grenzüberschreitende Kontamination vermeiden sollten, indem sie Pufferzonen entlang ihrer Grenzen zu benachbarten Mitgliedstaaten einrichten, in denen GVO nicht angebaut werden”.

Die Sprache ist gelinde gesagt tendenziös.

Die Wahrheit ist, dass Organisationen wie Greenpeace seit Jahrzehnten über GVO Unwahrheiten verbreiten. Sie sagen, dass GVO “inakzeptable Risiken” darstellen, ohne auf wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse hinzuweisen, die dieses Risiko untermauern.

“GVO-Kulturen haben in der nachhaltigen Landwirtschaft keinen Platz. Sie bergen unannehmbare Risiken, die durch den gentechnischen Prozess und die Eigenschaften, für die sie entwickelt wurden, entstehen”, heißt es von Greenpeace.

Dieselben Organisationen, die dafür gesorgt haben, dass in der EU GVOs fast komplett nicht-existent sind, versuchen die gleiche Takte beim Genome-Editing. Mit Erfolg. Erst kürzlich erklärte der Europäische Gerichtshof Genome-Editing und GVO also gleichwertig (aus einer Regulierungsperspektive). Greenpeace nannte Genome-Editing “GVO durch die Hintertür”.

Der Leiter der Europäischen Behörde für Lebensmittelsicherheit (EFSA), Dr. Bernhard Url, meint, dass nur weil einem die Ergebnisse nicht gefallen, man die Wissenschaft selbst kritisieren sollte. Er fügt hinzu: “Wenn die Wissenschaft nur noch eine weitere Meinung wird, die zugunsten des Aberglaubens übersehen werden kann, birgt dies ein enormes Risiko für die Gesellschaft”.

Er hat Recht. Genome-Editing bietet der Pflanzenzüchtung mehrere Vorteile, z.B. durch die Herstellung allergenfreier Lebensmittel. Stellen Sie sich die immense Veränderung für Menschen vor, die von potenziell lebensbedrohlichen Allergien betroffen sind, wenn es uns gelingt, allergenfreie Erdnüsse oder glutenfreien Weizen herzustellen. Diese Anwendungen gehen jedoch über den Bereich der Landwirtschaft hinaus. Genome-Editing kann helfen, das Zika-Virus zu bekämpfen, die Übertragung von Malaria zu verhindern, Leukämie zu heilen und zeigt vielversprechende Forschungsergebnisse in den Bereichen Alzheimer, Huntington, Gebärmutterhals- und Lungenkrebs.

Die Genschere läuft allerdings Gefahr, Opfer der gleichen unwissenschaftlichen Angstmache zu werden wie GVOs in der Vergangenheit. Mal wieder innovieren andere Kontinente, während Europa sich in ein technologisches Mittelalter begibt, und sogar die Entmechanisierung der Landwirtschaft vorantreibt.

Die Initiative Grow Scientific Progress verdient Unterstützung. Die Europäische Union muss sich der Innovation öffnen, um mit den spannenden Möglichkeiten von morgen Schritt zu halten.

Artikel hier veröffentlicht.


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.

As vape panic roils, flurry of lawsuits against Juul has begun

Inhale vapor. Exhale cash. 

The health risks around vaping are so unknown, and there is so much money in the pockets of e-cigarette makers like Juul lawyers are greasing up their hands for the reach-in. 

Here are some e-cig lawsuits already filed: 

A Kansas dude who says he goes through five pods a week.

A Connecticut man who says false advertising led him to start using Juuls, which he says cause him chest pain. 

A New Jersey dad who bought Juuls for his 14-year-old son, who now coughs and vomits

Dozens of lawsuits, all against Juul. Many of these lawsuits say that Juul’s happy, slick ads misled them into thinking Juuls were safe, when in fact they’ve lead to health problems. 

The concequenses of vaping are unclear at this point, and it may be decades before we know actual long-term effects. Scientists are studying links between vaping and lung diesase, seizure and addiction. 

But so far, 530 vapers have gotten sick nationwide, and eight people have died. 

Many reports said the cause was mainly — but not always — black-market vape cartridges that contain THC. 

But the lawsuits against Juul allege it was regular, off-the-shelf Juul products that did the damage. 

One reason lawsuits target Juul is Juul is a $38 billion company; Altria, owner of cigarette company Philip Morris, recently invested $13 billion in Juul. 

Lawyers remember that, 20 years ago, state officials wrenched a $200 billion settlement from cigarette-makers like Philip Morris. Lawyers sense billions of dollars in payouts from Juul, too. 

Lawyers will go after Juul for many reasons: for hooking kids, for draining their bank accounts, for harming their healths. 

To recruit new clients for more lawsuits, lawyers are already using skeevy tactics. For one, they’re running Facebook ads with a viral photo of a teen who says vape use put her in the hospital, with a link to a website called Juul-claims.com. 

“What we’re seeing now is a coordinated campaign on behalf of injury lawyers to abuse the science on vaping,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the industry-lobbying group Consumer Choice Center, in a statement. “To drum up as much misinformation on vaping as possible in order to file large class-action lawsuits that will end up financially benefiting them.” 

Eight vape-related deaths are eight too many, but eight is not a large number. Eight million deaths worldwide are related to cigarattes every year.  

After those eight vape-related deaths, the revolt against vaping been swift and massive. 

India — home to 1.3 billion people and 130 million smokers — just banned e-cigs entirely. Punishment could include a year in prison. Wal-Mart will stop selling all e-cigs. (Wal-Mart will still sell real cigarattes.) New York state banned flavored e-cigsMichigan followed

Juul has been backpeddaling: Juul deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts, since those are teen hangouts. Juul paused selling flavoried vape pods. 

And the vape-related deaths are scaring people back toward cigarettes, almost certainly an unhealthy move, since public health officials believe vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking cigarettes. 

Yes, the lawyers are coming after Juul. Expect Juul to be on the ropes soon. In fact, the guy who blew the whistle on Big Tobacco, who was played by Russell Crowe in the movie “The Insider,” has now turned his sights on Juul, saying Juul’s tactics are “right out of the Philip Morris playbook,” and says lawsuits against Juul are a way to “drive a stake through [Philip Morris’s] heart.”

Article originally published here.


For more facts about vaping, read our Research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know


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

Boris Sparks Hope for Science

In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has delivered a promising outlook for the UK’s tech and agricultural sector, by committing to a more innovation-prospering future after Brexit. Johnson mentions “a bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules… we will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet.” He also adds: “Let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world”, in a move cheered by the National Farmers Union.

If you’re reading op-eds in the Guardian and blog entries from certain environmentalist groups, you’d think that this is some sort of gift from the PM for the sake of inflating British business. They’re mistaken, as unleashing scientific innovation in the United Kingdom means much more than that.

We know for instance that that growing a GM pest-resistant crop like this in the UK could save about £60 million a year in pesticide use. This is certainly good news for farmers, yet lest we forget – £60 million in savings means more leeway for competitive food pricing within the United Kingdom. With food prices in the EU rising by 2 per cent, the new government can send a powerful message that yes, food can become cheaper through more than just dropping tariffs, but through more efficient and technologically advanced farming. As of now, GM crops aren’t grown in the UK, but imported genetically modified soy is used for animal feed.

We also know that upcoming generations have much more favourable views towards scientific innovation in the agricultural sector than their parents. A 2018 poll of 1,600 18 to 30-year-olds, carried out for the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), found that two-thirds support agro-tech innovations – only 22 percent being concerned about the use of gene-editing or genetically-modified crops.

So why agro-tech, and why now?

As the UK looks towards a free trade future after the withdrawal from the European Union, Boris Johnson knows that the UK economy needs to be competitive and up to the challenge of changing environments and markets. Genetically-modified crops and gene-editing present amazing opportunities in the years to come, not only in the area of food, but also in patient choice. Gene-editing technologies could have a huge impact in reducing the death toll from diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus.

This why the scientific community in the European Union will be more inclined with Boris Johnson than its own political leadership. 117 European research institutions have recently signed an open letter calling on ECJ to enable gene editing, bemoaning the strict legislation currently in place.

They write: “The strict legislation will make precision breeding hyper-expensive and, by consequence, a privilege of just a few large multinational companies. As such, European farmers will miss out on a new generation of hardier and more nutritious crop varieties that are urgently needed to respond to the results of climate change.”

One year ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided in Case C-528/16 that gene-editing should be treated the same way that genetically-modified organisms are handled at the moment, keeping them in essence practically illegal.

In the future, the European Union will have its own challenge of dealing with scientific innovation. For Boris Johnson, the hope needs to be that he can follow-up his promises with actions, delivering a prosperous era of innovation for Britain. By setting an example of breeding technologies and their benefits for human health and consumer choice, the UK could even become a new beacon of scientific research, to which the EU could eventually aspire to.

Originally published here

Synthetic farm chemicals boost harvest

“Agroecology as a political doctrine has no place in science-based policy discourse, and its promotion – given the scientific knowledge we have to today – is immoral. It needs to be stopped,” said Bill Wirtz, a policy analyst.

Read more here

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