The Risk-Monger

The BBC website announced today (20 June 2011) a “shocking decline” in the state of the oceans. With lines like: “The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now” or that we are ‘heading for a sixth mass extinction event’, my eyebrows got raised by the source of the shock factor that… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

This month we learn that both Argentine and Chinese researchers have been able to modify genes so that a cow can produce human-like breast milk. As we begin to ponder the societal value of the mass production of more nutritious milk that is less toxic to humans (plus other options that could be “designed in”… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

The Risk-Monger can now announce that the source of the E. coli outbreak is German pork. He has no evidence to support this claim, but he doesn’t need any. He has the precautionary principle and a nervous population. First it was Spanish cucumbers (and maybe tomatoes and lettuce). No evidence! Now we are told the… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

There is a new contagion spreading across Europe from Spain – not related to sovereign debt or tummy bugs, but rather, to the spread of hysteria about what we eat and feed our children. It is causing well-intentioned public officials to commit an outrageous sin: to start testing all types of food for E. coli.… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

The Eurobarometer document entitled “Attitudes of European Citizens towards the Environment” should shatter the hopes and dreams of NGO activists and impassioned European civil servants as it shows how little European citizens really care about those issues we have been told are important to us.

Posted by David Zaruk

This is my third and final wish for the Eighth Framework Programme (FP8) planning process. This wish, more difficult for Commission PO’s, is that there be greater flexibility in the project management. Imagine two people standing in front of a cave. The first person was interested to go in and see what was in the… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

This is the second of my three wishes for the planning process for the Eighth Framework Programme (FP8) and it is addresses some of the challenges that RTD have been trying to address in FP6 and FP7. My wish is to implement a structural incentive for researchers to work more closely with civil society organisations.… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

This is the first of my three wishes for the FP8 foresight process. Wish 1: Stop demanding that EU-funded research be evaluated on impact. Any FP7 research proposal is presently evaluated on at least three main themes – one of them being impact. This might seem like common sense in the project management world: any… » read more

Posted by David Zaruk

I recently attended the European Commission, DG Climate Action’s conference on their roadmap to a low carbon economy in 2050. After hearing the European officials saying one thing (long-term targets) and the stakeholders another (short-term needs for funding innovation), I can only conclude that even with the best roadmap, we are definitely lost.

Posted by David Zaruk

The images of the tsunami and the loss of life in Japan are horrifying. But before the sun set on the second day of this tragedy, Greenpeace International released an obscene, tasteless “I told you so” press release as part of their anti-nuclear campaign. If they had been anything but deceitful in their ambulance-chasing motives, I would not have been so sickened by this organisation’s behaviour.

Posted by David Zaruk

What is causing the revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East? Is it a yearning for our democratic way of life? After decades of misrule, why now?

Posted by David Zaruk

I am just a citizen

The Risk-Monger is pondering starting a Citizen’s Initiative (to repeal the precautionary principle!). To do this, he is asking the European Commission to provide him with funds. In the process, he has discovered the true purpose of the ECI.

Posted by David Zaruk

Since precaution is a destructive policy tool, it needs to be relegated. In its place, the concept of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) must be articulated to improve risk management, dialogue, engagement and trust in science.

Posted by David Zaruk

The EU’s use of the precautionary principle has proven to be a biased, political tool, detrimental to research and often leading to catastrophic consequences. The Risk-Monger gives seven reasons why the Commission must stop using precaution as a policy tool.

Posted by David Zaruk

The participatory policy process is being clogged by environmental activists who would rather see states not function than be led by elites and experts who might make decisions. This neo-anarchism is becoming commonplace and we no longer believe that the policy-processors meeting in Brussels today will be able to achieve anything.

Posted by David Zaruk

DG Sanco’s promotion of organic living is a moral train wreck. It is reducing global food security and yields while encouraging price rises and child labour in developing countries. Worse, this moral self-satisfaction has limited basis in science and could increase health threats.

Posted by David Zaruk

European innovation gurus talk up targets for investments in research and technologies, but without serious changes in political and societal mindsets, we are simply building fast trains to run on slow tracks. A recent series of meetings with Taiwanese National Research Council experts has brought about much introspection.

Posted by David Zaruk

Do Facts Matter?

Ten years ago, the Risk Monger was one of many working on science communications, science, society and governance issues. He believed that facts mattered. Today he has lost his faith.

Posted by David Zaruk