The Risk-Monger

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Stupid legislation from Brussels leads to frustration, an inability to comply and the resort of having to turn to lawyers to continue to properly function. Rather than getting rid of bad regulators in DG Health, industry is left with no choice but to turn to the short-sighted and limited “Derogation Dance”.

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Will negotiators in Brussels and Washington be able to agree on and push through a TTIP pact? Forget it. The anti-American, anti-TTIP campaigners inside the Brussels Bubble have sharpened their Eur-redneck knives and tongues to squash that gosling in its nest.

The Logic of Risks

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Are Naturalist Nutters showing signs of inconsistency or of a sudden logical outburst when they criticise those who do not vaccinate? Hardly – they are exhibiting a perfectly justifiable illogic that easily harmonises contradictory thinking. We need to accept that there is no logic to risk decisions and learn how to manage risks in an emotional, anecdotal world.

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Five years ago, the world was on the brink of collapse from catastrophic climate change. As fear-mongers got rich, the Risk-Monger had a rich picking of ridiculous cases of abusive PR and scientific activism. The Environmental-Industrial Complex has evolved over these five years, but is showing no signs of weakening its hold on our media attention, fear levels or pocket-books.

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The IUCN Taskforce on Systemic Pesticides has been set up essentially as a political front group – they do not do any original research, are not transparent on their membership or amount of funding and was formed to do PR and political activism. Their activism is damaging the reputation of science. They need to understand that rules matter.

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The third and final activist bee science blog looks at how activist scientists have got into government panels like EFSA and are changing the way risk assessments are done. Laden with conflicts of interest, they have delegitimised the entire process and put the European Commission into a terribly compromised position. As the game plays out, nobody cares about the real victims – the farmers.

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The IUCN Taskforce on Systemic Pesticides has surrounded itself with like-minded thinkers campaigning to ban neonicotinoids, receiving funds from organisations that want to hit industry hard and promote organic farming. They declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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What if scientists got caught acting without scientific integrity? What if they formed a group with political ambitions to juice up the science so they could campaign against another group? Would they be credible? Would their science serve as the basis for policy? Only an idiot would accept that. Why then did we?

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Not all scientists follow standard practices or operate according to agreed upon codes of conduct. Some are motivated by other ambitions. How can we determine who a credible scientist is? Is the science proposed by politically motivated and very vocal activists the best available evidence? Without a chief scientific adviser, how do we know?

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Greenpeace risked the lives of its volunteers this weekend, leading to a 23-year-old woman being taken to hospital when Spanish authorities tried to stop their attack on an oil installation. Greenpeace has to learn to stop promoting acts of “environmental heroism” among its young recruits and then putting their lives in danger for cheap PR stunts.

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Today is a sad day for the European Union. After a clever and persistent lobbying campaign, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Green 10 have succeeded in removing the post of a Chief Scientific Adviser. There is no longer a safety mechanism within the European Commission to ensure, better, more evidence-based policymaking.

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The recent precautionary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides to save the bees has gone badly wrong in less than a year. Oilseed rape crops are being devastated and Member States are now allowing neonics to be used as emergency measures. Farmers and scientists had warned anyone who would listen, but no one in the European Commission was interested in dialogue. Remember the basic maxim: Never outsource policy-making to campaign-driven activists.

In Praise of Anne Glover

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As activists along the halls of the Mundo-B building smell blood and put their PR machines into high gear, a bit of rationality should be restored to the question of the role of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission. It is high time to acknowledge the great work that Dr Anne Glover has done. In short, high-level advice must be given to the president in confidence by a single individual.