This document is a follow-up to my Science Charter blog.
German Green MEP Maria Heubuch has spent more time campaigning against agricultural technologies (and Africans) than representing her constituents. When she went to Berlin on the public purse to attend a secret NGO meeting to campaign against the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, she used her Gmail account so her activities could not be officially recorded. A few weeks later, she stood up in the European Parliament and demanded that a Commission official be transparent. MEPs Bart Staes, Pavel Poc and Michele Rivasi spend public funds obsessively campaigning against a single company and flying in non-scientific activists from as far away as the US and Australia to speak in the European Parliament. No scientists were invited to speak at their public events. The chair of the Parliament’s PEST Committee, Eric Andrieu, has tried to change the EU risk assessment process in order to ban synthetic pesticides (but then demanded that copper sulphate, an extremely toxic organic-approved pesticide not be banned).
All of this was done in response to the herbicide glyphosate and the European Parliament’s irrational witch-hunt on industry and agriculture. All of this was done despite the overwhelming evidence from the scientific community (and all scientific regulatory authorities including EFSA, ECHA and the European Commission’s own scientific advice mechanism) that glyphosate does not pose a risk to human health or the environment.
The European Parliament vote for the irrationally restrictive measures proposed by the PEST Committee was: 526 votes in favour, 66 against and 72 abstentions.
The European Parliament chose to banish Monsanto from meeting with public officials because Monsanto chose not to attend their little witch-hunt. Seriously!
The actions of the publicly-elected EU officials over the last five years has a severe effect on European jobs, innovations, farmers, consumers, international trade and food supply (not to mention the reputation of Europe as a region governed by ridiculous naturopathic chemophobes opposed to science, trade, industry and innovation). None of this was even considered in any of the public debates.
Welcome to the abuse of science and evidence in the European Parliament.
In today’s populist political climate, demanding scientific evidence or using data in the decision-making process is not essential. The recent subversive action of a group of Neo-Marxist activists trying to disrupt and overthrow society by convincing young people and journalists that humanity will go extinct in just 12 years unless we act now and reject the present political structure shows the limited level of public understanding of science and the strength of social media to control a message. Rather than challenging the operatives from Extinction Rebellion manipulating the message for political gains, the media are covering the emotion of the messengers. And now a group of 11-year-olds are marching in Brussels to tell the MEPs what they need to do. This is all posturing to improve the environmentalist vote in the upcoming elections (in Germany, the Green Party is now running second in the polls).
It doesn’t have to be this way.
What would happen if science-friendly influencers controlled the narrative? Wouldn’t you want your political representative to the European Parliament to take pro-innovation positions rather than cater to the technophobes they perceive to be in the majority? Shouldn’t Europe be a leader in entrepreneurs rather than an exporter of contrapreneurs?
Give me 3.5% and I’ll deliver you a revolution
Extinction Rebellion is operating on the premise that 3.5% of the population, if active and passionate, can change society, can lead to a revolution. The Risk-Monger supports democratic principles and has always worried that activist zealots are not very democratically inclined. 3.5% is not legitimate. 3.5% of any population may believe in angels, 3.5% may have strong fascist principles, 3.5% may feel the earth is flat, 3.5% may want to overthrow the state and industry, bringing us back to a type of pastoral living. The 3.5% scares me.
So what about the 96.5% who respect the rule of law, believe in democratic institutions and support the benefits of research and technology? Their voices should count.
Taking that 3.5% logic further, what if 3.5% of the scientists raised the importance of candidates for elections being scientifically literate. Could they influence the results? Let’s take the Czech Republic as an example. There are more than 500 Czech candidates for the European elections. With a voting population of eight million electing 21 MEPs (with 52% average turnout but only 18% in the last European elections), 200 votes can have a strong influence in the outcome. If 20 pro-science individuals in the Czech Republic engaged candidates on social media pages promoting the Science Charter, they could easily each influence ten people in supporting candidates who promote evidence-based policy and innovation. Hell, I even have a Science Charter translated into Czech by a volunteer! That could be enough to put that relentless anti-science scoundrel, Pavel Poc, out of a job!
It sounds so easy … so why isn’t it happening?
There are many reasons to stay quiet over the next twelve days, none of them insurmountable but enough to say things don’t look positive (and my personal situation has made my perspective rather “dark”).
- It’s not my job to engage with the general public
- Scientists should keep beyond the fray and remain professional and respectful
- I don’t have the time or the energy
- The mob attacks people who stand up for science
All of these are good reasons … good reasons to let zealots take over the agenda for the next five years; to let the European Parliament continue to attack research and innovation for the next five years; to lose funding for the next five years for scientists researching in technologies that could create jobs and improve the quality of life in Europe; to have more specially-formed committees to attack industry, farmers and entrepreneurs for the next five years while making consumer goods more expensive or no longer accessible.
Tomorrow evening, ten days before most European polls, I will publish a more positive strategy to try to make the next five years more hopeful.