The Risk-Monger

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.

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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.

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Posted by David Zaruk

This week, as a known activist and anti-industry lobbyist releases a “documentary” where she pretends to be a journalist, we see a good illustration of the need for a mechanism to separate the real journalists from the predators. Like lobbyists, journalists should have a transparency registry so innocent policy-makers and industry representatives can communicate in good faith, without deception and ulterior motives.

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Posted by David Zaruk

Postcard from Tacloban

The Risk-Monger recently went to Tacloban and was shocked to see how a new industry of aid risks undermining the long-term resilience of the local inhabitants. While there is still much to do, the first thing that must be done is remove the international directors and project managers of the aid NGOs. They are creating a master-slave culture of recipientism and, as they are first and foremost concerned with their donor PR, they do not seem to be capable of listening to the needs of the local population.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted by David Zaruk

The Risk-Monger understands that IKEA is considered one of those sweet, well-loved retail chains that most consumers want to believe does good things. Unfortunately, if IKEA were to be looked at beyond their Allen key PR, their sustainability record would be rather sour. Why don’t we look?

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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.

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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.

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Posted by David Zaruk