European Commission Financing Own Consumer 'Opposition'
The European Union's Health and Consumer Directorate seems to have a habit of financing its own 'opposition', that is, critical consumers. An example that has come to my attention is a "consumer" campaign in Italy, Spain and Greece, which has the aim of telling people that food supplements "are dangerous" and that regulations, such as the European Food Supplements Directive, recently challenged in the European Court of Justice, are therefore well justified.
What is significant about this is the pretense of consumer representation of such a publicly financed campaign, when in fact those consumers that do use supplements in their daily health regimes are not asked or even informed.
After attending the event organized by the Italian association Adiconsum and seeing that real consumers were quite conspicuously absent, I just wrote a message to a friend in Spain, where a similar campaign is underway.
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004
To: Carlos Vinas
From: Sepp (Josef) Hasslberger
Recently I have come across CECU, the Confederacion de Consumidores y Usurarios, which participated in an event here in Rome, organized by a similar Italian association called Adiconsum. The February 2004 event was sponsored by the European Commission's Direccion General de Sanidad y Ptoteccion de los Consumidores.
The Spanish CECU, Italian Adiconsum and a third association from Greece called EKATO, were mounting an "information campaign" involving booklets printed with EU Commission money and distributed in schools, which warn against "the grave dangers" of food supplements. Some information on the campaign in Spanish can be found on www.cecu.es/index_marcos.html (link no longer active) on the CECU site. The Italian event is described on the Adiconsum site.
I find it interesting and would like to keep at least a minimal record of this campaign, where the European Union's Consumer Directorate is dedicating specific financing (public funds) to an information campaign that practically says supplements are dangerous. This is part of a strategy to gain 'public acceptance' for the food supplements directive by having a front group paint an exaggerated picture of "dangers", while publicly the EU Commission maintains that good nutrition is important for health.
It appears to me that the European Union in this case is financing its own "consumer" representation, although none of these associations really represent consumers of supplements or anyway health-conscious people. Those doing the campaigning with EU finances would not know what proper nutrition should consist of, even if you told them.
We are witnessing a case of an artificial "consumer opposition" (one that is internationally visible thanks to grants from the EU itself) campaigning in a way that is intended to manufacture consensus for the making of rules and regulations which will eventually make it difficult for those consumers who really are using supplements in taking care of their own health, to obtain those supplements freely.
Things are not always what they appear to be...
According to this article in 'Alive', ill feeling towards the EU could 'reach the point where it threatens the EU itself'. No wonder with the kind of legislation that is being introduced and the methods employed to hide away any discontent, quite apart from whether the legislators and the Commission believe they are acting in defense of consumer choice and safety...
Ralph Nader and his 'Public Citizen' and 'Global Trade Watch' - Different continent, same story. They are apparently "consumer" associations but are funded by the very forces that push the policies they oppose...
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Wednesday April 14 2004
updated on Tuesday December 21 2010
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