darkside

The ‘DARK’ Side Loses Another One, With House Passage of State Labeling Preemption Bill

On Thursday, July 23, the “DARK” side took a hit. By a vote of 275 to 150, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo), aimed at preempting state-level mandates for discriminatory, skull and crossbones labels on foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology, or “GMOs.”

Opponents of the bill, legions whipped into fearful frenzy by pro-labeling forces, mounted a full scale assault in an attempt to derail the bill, dubbing it the “DARK” (“Denying Americans the Right to Know”) Act, casting it falsely as a revived “Monsanto Protection Act,” and claiming it was aimed at denying consumers access to information. Those, and their other arguments, are both wrong and unpersuasive, which is why their efforts have increasingly failed to bear fruit. With House passage of the bill, the consistent thread of bipartisan support for agricultural biotechnology and science-based innovation we’ve seen in Congress since the end of World War II continues unbroken.

The bill represents real progress. Those who have tried to use fear and deception to advance a dogmatic world view, built

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digital

Data a Key Driver of Transatlantic Economic Growth

The Transatlantic Policy Network hosted an event on Capitol Hill yesterday to discuss the data revolution in the transatlantic marketplace. The discussion was timely, for the reality is that data is the key commodity in today’s knowledge-based economy. In fact, a recent study by Finland’s TEKES finds that, by 2025, half of all value created in the global economy will be created digitally. Meanwhile, half of all global trade in services depends on access to open, cross-border data flows. Indeed, a wide range of industries—from manufacturers to miners, to banks, hospitals, and grocers—depend on the ability to move data across borders and/or analyze it in real-time as a fundamental component of their supply chains, operations, value propositions, and business models, as ITIF writes in Cross-Border Data Flows Enable Growth in All Industries. And this is as true for small businesses at it is for large—a 2014 study found that 60 percent of U.S. and European businesses with 50 or fewer employees regard data analytics as important to their enterprises’ success.

Moreover, the competencies of countries, and their enterprises therein, at extracting value and insights from data is instrumental to

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gmocrop

Finally… Slate Tells the Full Truth About the Anti-GMO Campaign

The title of William Saletan’s July 15 j’accuse in Slate, “Unhealthy Fixation” is spot on, but the subtitle really nails it: “The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.” Longer than most blog posts, it’s well worth reading, as it lays out in meticulous and measured prose, with abundant citations, the panoply of shifting arguments and reversals that demonstrate to all who have eyes to see the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the campaign spearheaded by Greenpeace against recombinant DNA techniques applied to improving agriculture. He does, however, elide the difficulty of overcoming this populist fear mongering.

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen something new: cautiously, and one at a time, courageous journalists have followed the data, interrogated their presuppositions, and begun to pull back the many layers of curtains to illuminate the true intentions driving the global campaign against modern innovations in agriculture, aka “GMOs.” Keith Kloor was among the first I noticed, with his column, also in Slate, noting the intellectual incoherence of those who accept the global scientific consensus on

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ice

Response to the Pope’s Encyclical on Global Warming: Markets and Technology Are the Solution, Not the Problem

It is difficult to know what to make of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si’. Although formally devoted to global warming, the science and policy of climate change is mentioned only in passing. None of the encyclical’s 172 footnotes cite scientific or economic works. The facts associated with neither the immediate topic nor with broader ecological concerns are ever examined in any depth. Instead, readers are treated to a lengthy discussion of church philosophy on the relationship between man, God, and nature, illustrated by numerous quotations from past church leaders. Although critics have faulted the encyclical for many things, its language is too general and enough caveats are thrown in that such attacks seem overdone. The real problem is that, other than love each other and live more simply, it is difficult to know what Pope Francis would have us do differently.

The Pope is surely correct to point out the many instances where short-term profit for a few has produced environmental pollution whose cost is borne by the many. His criticism of materialism, defined as the love of things rather than people or values, also rings true. There is

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medicalworker

TPP Poised to Improve, Not Diminish, Health Outcomes Across Asia-Pacific Nations

In a not-so-shocking revelation last week, a leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) intellectual property (IP) chapter turned up the fact that…surprise…the United States is fighting for its domestic industries in a trade agreement.

No real news there, especially since that’s exactly what our trade representatives should be doing, namely bringing home the strongest possible deal that protects and creates jobs and fosters the kind of innovation that will secure 21st century prosperity for Americans. What is extremely disconcerting, however, is that special interest groups and the generic drug industry are lobbying for drastic cuts to intellectual property protections for innovative medicines that could have lasting consequences for both global patient health as well as U.S. jobs and economic competitiveness.

These groups are (wrongly) asserting that the IP provisions being negotiated in the TPP will weaken competition from generics and raise drug prices by establishing protections that go beyond U.S. law. But, as usually happens, groups that oppose free trade agreements never let minor inconveniences like facts get in the way of their arguments.

For instance, it’s telling when the head of one of the world’s largest generic

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