The Risk-Monger

Archives for Science & Research

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

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?

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

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 took his children to see Noah during the Easter break. Rather than celebrating a Biblical story, he found himself trying to explain why environmentalists were portrayed as good and those embracing technology and human endeavour suffered the wrath of God.

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

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

A recent 16 year study taking 5000 samples of blood and sperm from young males entering the Danish military from two towns (using the best available analytical technology) found no decrease in sperm counts or evidence of endocrine disruption. The researchers chose not to publish their findings. Why not? That is a very good question.

Posted by David Zaruk