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The Hoist: No Evidence Of Harm

by afew Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 12:47:19 PM EST

[The Hoist: featuring an item or items from the day's Newsroom]

EU policymakers urged to use 'precautionary principle': theparliament.com

A Brussels conference has been told that warning signs of the potentially harmful effects of new technologies are sometimes "ignored or suppressed".

That is the message of a new report by the European environment agency (EEA) which details cases where "danger signals" have gone unheeded.

In some cases it says this has led to death, illness and "environmental destruction".

Speaking at the debate on Wednesday, EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade said, "The environment in which we live is complex and changing rapidly.

"We can no longer look at single causes of harm; instead we need to consider many different things in combination - pharmaceuticals, pollutants in the environment, food products and electromagnetic radiation from phones.

"The combined influence of many different contaminants may be behind a rise in cancers, fertility problems and other illnesses, so we need new ways to identify hazards to human and ecosystem health associated with new products and a more precautionary approach to decision making."

The conference sounds pretty bromide, but there's a trend at the moment towards official agencies accepting criticism of their supine approach to the corporate world on risks to health and the environment. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has come out with some good, thorough work on (its own and others') scientific failings in assessing the risks of pesticides for bee populations (diary forthcoming). The work came out last May and was hardly noticed by the media. Or was hardly pushed by EFSA... Still plenty of reasons to keep prodding the agencies.

EU policymakers urged to use 'precautionary principle': theparliament.com
"No evidence of harm is often misunderstood as evidence of no harm, which is a very different thing."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 12:47:48 PM EST
Lobbying. This time from technology companies:

A brief guide to tech lobbyists in Europe -- Tech News and Analysis

In the last few years, lobbying by web giants like Google and Facebook has increased dramatically on both sides of the Atlantic.

There's an obvious reason they're concentrating their energies, too. Technology companies are incredibly powerful, which draws a lot of attention, and a lot of anger in many cases. Unfriendly administrations can be powerful enemies: from Microsoft's drawn-out conflict with European officials -- effectively running for 20 years -- to the vast fines levied on companies like Intel who break competition rules, conflict with governments can be costly and distracting. So what better way to try and smooth the path than try to head off that conflict earlier in the process?

But lobbying is furtive, and tends to happen behind closed doors: only dragged into the open when big issues emerge, such as the recent furore over American tech companies paying little or no tax in the U.K.. The European Commission does run a transparency register that companies are meant to report for, but the truth is that many -- including, for example, Apple -- have not signed up. Shouldn't the extent of lobbying be more visible?

Shouldn't buying influence be more difficult in Brussels than it is in Abidjan, Djakarta or even Washington DC? </rhetorical question>

by Bernard on Mon Jan 28th, 2013 at 04:15:42 PM EST
"Oh, wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder."

But serious, yes, I'd have expected the revolving door (between business/finance/banking and various institutions) to be a little slower in Brussels than in DC. Probably being naive.

Apparently some people are watching this already.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 06:34:40 AM EST
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