I wish I were making this up … but nothing surprises me in the Age of Stupid!
- German officials are discussing a proposal to tax biotech products;
- The revenue would be earmarked to fund “precautionary risk research”;
- It is intended to replace the present risk assessment system in Germany where institutes, universities and companies had provided the relevant data;
- The panel would be overseen by environmental and health NGOs.
This is insane. The Germans are seriously considering taxing innovative industrial products to give money directly to hateful naturopaths trying to stop industry and innovation. This NGO Tax would be more than a levy on innovation; it will be a prohibition on progress.
This blog-site has in the past expressed annoyance that hundreds of millions of euros of EU public money was being freely handed out to liars, cheats and fear-mongerers in NGO groups like Testbiotech and Friends of the Earth Europe without an ounce of scrutiny or oversight. But now, this plan to fleece German consumers will enable these same anti-dialogue, anti-science and anti-innovation cranks to take positions on panels advising government regulatory bodies.
The NGO Tax Report
The policy draft being discussed by German legislators is entitled: Models for Financing Precautionary Risk Research in the Fields of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. It was written on behalf of the anti-GMO Testbiotech NGO by Cornelia Ziehm, an environmental lawyer and former regional government environmental minister. It shows how existing German law will enable a tax to be imposed on biotech and genetically engineered products and materials in order to fund a new form of “precautionary risk research”. As the NGO Tax report states:
If risk research is not precautionary, then the state’s duty to protect will not be perceived as appropriate and well-oriented. … Ensuring precautionary risk research is a legitimate reason for a tax.
While it is not defined, the document indicates how precautionary risk research demands that the product or process be found, without a doubt, to be completely safe. This, of course, is ridiculous as safety is a normative concept (what is deemed safe for one may scare the hell out of a more vulnerable person) and with any innovative technology (with anything at all actually), there will always be some level of uncertainty. In other words, members of the public will be paying more for products in order for a group of self-appointed zealots and ideologues to systematically ban all innovations they don’t like.
The German officials (mostly Greens and Social Democrats … who vowed after “the great glyphosate betrayal” to clean things up on risk assessments) envisage a type of NGO panel to oversee and advise on the precautionary process.
… in the case of a fund with its own legal personality, for example, the establishment of an advisory council or similar could, in principle, establish the participation of environmental and consumer protection organisations in the award decisions.
So the fox would be in charge of the hen-house. Biotech will be taxed, money will be given to a government-backed “precautionary risk research” panel filled with environmental NGOs.
Make no mistake. The NGO Tax being discussed will not be a tax on a few seed companies but, as the report suggested, on all products and services involving genetic manipulation and biotechnology. The enzymes in most detergents (that allow for cold-water washing, compaction and fewer discarded textiles) will have an NGO tax applied. Most medicines from insulin to blood pressure pills will be contributing to the wallets of naturopathic activists deciding whether we have the right to benefit from these life-saving biotechnologies. Costs will go up for dyes in clothes or paints, vitamins, flavours and fragrances … My only hope is these slimy self-interested fear-mongers will wake up and realise how much money they’ll lose from lower NGO Tax revenues if they systematically ban everything synthetic with the word “biotech” in it.
Just because Germany is wealthy enough to hurt its own people, doesn’t make this idiotic measure justifiable. Biotech has become the “New Nuclear” in Germany. Virtue signalling German regulators have created a large energy impoverished minority from such good deeds … I wonder who will suffer first from this latest stupid Steinerian attack on modernity.
But NGOs Should be Part of the Process … Right?
Germany has had a long tradition of consultation in industrial relations. One could argue that, in the spirit of stakeholder dialogue, the NGOs should be on these panels. OK, but then so should industry. NGOs have consistently demanded that industry be excluded from the process and have relentlessly worked to undermine their interests (including systematically opposing free-market economic, trade and tax policies). An NGO-driven precautionary risk research panel would move quickly to exclude anyone who would threaten the interests of the activists. NGOs are not part of the process – they are driven to change the process to fit their objectives. And soon, in Germany, they will have power, influence and money.
The German NGO, Testbiotech (essentially the activist, Christoph Then), was recently awarded €200,000 in a non-competitive grant to create a centre to inform people on biotechnology. So are the activists taking an engaging, participatory approach? German writer, Ludger Wess, put the absurdity of the German government’s derisory attitude to science best in his excellent exposé that first raised my attention to the NGO Tax:
…the ruling coalition in Germany has already made clear it has no confidence in the relevant regulatory agencies by establishing a “Centre for Environmental and Genetic Engineering” (FUG). The centre – financed without a tender by the Ministry of Research (led by the Christian Democrats) and the Ministry of the Environment (led by the Social Democrats) – is run by an anti-GMO NGO (Testbiotech), whose director is scientifically “qualified”, among others, through joint publications with the discredited anti-GM activist and homeopathy “researcher” Gilles-Eric Séralini. The advisory board of the Centre only includes anti-GMO NGOs. FUG has been entitled to educate public authorities, politicians and the public about genome editing and other modern molecular biology procedures – which is an original task of federal authorities such as the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) and its Central Commission for Biological Safety (ZKBS) and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Basically, it’s like the Ministry of Health commissioning an anti-vaccine organisation, whose leader denies the existence of viruses, to educate the public on new vaccines.
No doubt this new precautionary panel will not engage or consult, but rather dictate. I have written about how NGOs have killed dialogue and how they vociferously attack anyone who is deemed a threat to them. These activists do not play by the rules, have little regard for facts or the truth and couldn’t care less if people suffer consequences from their elitist ideology. A tax should be levied on them for the destructive results of their twisted eco-religion, not given public tax monies to even further destroy the economy and people’s health and well-being.
What happens when the fox has eaten all of the hens?
Not the Voice of the People
Now NGOs do have a right to voice their opinions and express their dreams of a world without industry, free trade or conventional agriculture and they are free to add their science to the risk assessment process, but they refuse to play by rules that don’t favour them. So as a stakeholder group with less than 10% of public support in most countries, the Greens have abandoned democratic tools like dialogue and democratic process, opting for online propaganda tools that raise fear and distrust. Groups whose evidence cannot stand up to rigorous scientific methodology and replication practices instead claim the science is biased and demand a “citizen-led” risk assessment process. So while society tolerates the ridiculous, the intolerance of these ridiculous people has changed the rules of the game.
The NGOs are now taking control of the process, they are now eliminating the voice and the interests of the majority and as driven naturopathic cult zealots, they don’t give a damn about evidence, truth, well-being or posterity. Worse, the unsuspecting public are being taxed for the privileged of being screwed.
Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Glyphosate was never about whether farmers could use a beneficial weed-killer. I invested a good part of my time (and paid heavily for it) engaging in the glyphosate renewal authorisation process because I saw what groups like Testbiotech, Friends of the Earth and Corporate Europe Observatory were doing. These scoundrels used the public distaste for Monsanto to discredit the entire European risk assessment process. Theycould not show the science was wrong on glyphosate, but tried to associate the risk assessment process with a maligned corporation, succeeding in dispelling the science in a sea of innuendo: the ridiculous Monsanto Papers farce. The greens dragged science into the mud so those pigs could wallow in their own ignorance. Disgraceful.
By trying to show that Monsanto was running the risk assessment process, the goal was to undermine EU regulatory bodies from Parma to Brussels to Helsinki to Paris to Berlin. It had nothing to do with the science. The alternative these cretins are proposing is to replace the risk assessment process developed over decades with a form of citizen science (which they imply is a science supported by NGOs). Well, with a weak coalition in Berlin, no leadership in Brussels and a sycophant in Paris, this disaster is now coming true. Between now and March, hug a British MEP whenever you can – the voice of reason will be missed as the last researcher packs a suitcase.
This is a dark day for people who respect science, people who feel that innovations and progress matter for all populations, and for people who feel that technologies should not be limited to those elitists who can afford higher costs. As friends of the Risk-Monger know, I have spent most of the summer in and out of hospitals, benefiting from biotechnology with every pill I take. The thought of an NGO Tax that will make these medicines less accessible (if at all), the thought that these naturopaths will soon have the power to take such life-saving technologies off the market, and the thought that the money I pay for these medicines go to a pack of ignorant wolves bent on denying benefits that are offering people like me a shred of quality to my days … these thoughts fill me with despair.
Say “No!” to an NGO Tax!
Say “No!” to NGOs who want to stop technology!