The Risk-Monger

Archives for Innovation and Growth

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.

Posted by David Zaruk

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.

Posted by David Zaruk

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?

Posted by David Zaruk

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.

Posted by David Zaruk

Supply Chain Shame

Supply chains are hardly the source of innovation and product development. As the soft spot of industry competition and dirty tactics, the lack of cooperation and coordination along the supply chain signify industry weakness and opportunity for others. It will only worsen.

Posted by David Zaruk

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.

Posted by David Zaruk

In Praise of Anne Glover

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.

Posted by David Zaruk

The Risk-Monger shows that if the implementation of the precautionary principle were rational, then coffee would need to be banned. Fortunately, in this case, normative reflux steps in – our values and love of the benefits blinds us to the real risks and allows us to enjoy coffee despite the evidence.

Posted by David Zaruk

The more the pesticides industry denies safety accusations, the more guilty they look. The erosion of trust is built into the precautionary blacklist game – a game the industry will never win.

Posted by David Zaruk

The Risk-Monger recently spoke at a crop protection industry conference on how to prepare data requirements for implementing the new pesticides legislation. I am not sure they liked my main point: that the data they will generate does not matter … at all. Still, they were polite.

Posted by David Zaruk

I Pollute

Imagine a religion that looks at the problems in the world and concludes that it is because others sin. “If only they could be more like me!” A faith without humility and mercy is hypocritical – a congregation of zealots. As environmentalists build their beliefs into their new temple, the eco-theologians need to remind their followers of the virtue of humility – that they are not without sin.

Posted by David Zaruk

Sustainability Bias

We need a new term to be able to capture how people can be self-contradictory or outright hypocritical when pushing personal environmental decisions they have been told are sustainable. Like a symptom that finds a name (and then becomes a disease that can be treated), we can now begin to look at how we can treat sustainability bias.

Posted by David Zaruk

My dinner with Axel

Last month the Risk-Monger was seated at a table with Axel Singhofen, the adviser on health and environment for the Greens in the European Parliament and former toxics campaigner for Greenpeace’s European Unit. Axel spent a good part of the evening telling those around the table his stories about how “industry” had been so wrong over the last decade.

Posted by David Zaruk

In 2013, European science has been weakened by poor publication practices and the infiltration of politics within the production of data. From Séralini to Kortenkamp, activist researchers have used their white coats to whitewash evidence-based policymaking, diminishing the public perception of research. The Risk-Monger fears the politicisation of science will only get worse.

Posted by David Zaruk

The Death of Dialogue

The Risk-Monger spoke at a stakeholder dialogue event organised by PlasticsEurope. Why is industry the only actor trying to engage and reach out to other stakeholders (in keeping with the European Commission’s ideal expressed in the 2001 White Paper on Governance)? Can you have a dialogue when activists are attacking your right to be a player in the process? In my enclosed speech base document, I told them that their public trust has been eroded because they are too nice and too tolerant towards the activist attacks.

Posted by David Zaruk

Dear CEO, I am really ready to give up. I have written to you, and about you, many times hoping to get you to see things more objectively. I have even offered to come to your offices (at no charge) and explain to your staff what it is like to work in a company. I can only conclude that you are not interested in listening to anyone you might not agree with. Thus I have resorted to writing you this open letter.

Posted by David Zaruk

Something went very wrong earlier this year with how DG SANCO pushed through a precautionary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides to “save the bees”, in a period of four months, without proper evidence, without consultation and without any attempt to manage potential risks. While the Risk-Monger expected an internal investigation into possible abuse of procedure within DG Sanco, nothing came about. So before his lectures start, he is doing one himself.

Posted by David Zaruk

Whether it is from campaigns in the Philippines against Golden Rice as a solution for Vitamin A Deficiency, which kills hundreds of thousands of children per year, or spreading a culture of activist civil disobedience in non-Western societies, Greenpeace has been spending millions in developing countries to impress its anti-progress, anti-development message on locals a bit too busy for green idealism. This form of neo-colonialism is beginning to draw reactions.

Posted by David Zaruk