Science or mumbo-jumbo?

In a speech on February 3, just days after the UK left the EU, PM Boris Johnson said "There are other issues where I think that I've heard a certain amount of hysterical … there is a sort of thing about as if American food was somehow inferior. I look at the Americans, they look pretty well nourished to me. And I don't hear any of these critics of American food coming back from the United States and complaining … So let's take some of the paranoia out of this argument."

BoJo said at Greenwich (Feb '20) "While reiterating that the UK would not accept a ‘diminution of standards’ on food hygiene or animal welfare in a future US deal...Britain would be ‘governed by science, not mumbo-jumbo’

'Well nourished' President.. officially 'obese'.

"Although it is not necessarily seen in Brussels as a sign of a wider deregulatory shift, the UK last week granted temporary authorisation for the use of a pesticide (Neonics) suspected of being harmful to bees because of concerns about a disease attacking sugar beets. 'Pesticides concern public health, the health of farmers, farm workers and consumers,' Mr Barnier said. 'Depending on where you set the threshold in that area it can also have an impact on competition and competitiveness.'”
Many of my friends saw this as the beginning of the end, however granting 'derogations' under controlled conditions has been part of pesticide usage since when I was on the Advisory Committee on Pesticides - now 'Expert' Committee.

Science & Society

All science is impacted by society, just how and how much is open to debate.

To be more objective we need to take any biases into account.

When we examine any evidence, we must be critical, taking in any social factors.


At some point the word risk will appear. 'Risk' is the likelihood of causing harm.

EU law is based on 'hazards' - intrinsic harm. eg MRLs of pesticides in food.

Me at the ACP on risk v hazards minority of 1 'hazards' out of 18 'risk'.

Expect to hear :

"While there may be a hazard, our controls are so good, the risk is low."


By 'science', we mean getting to the truth. It sets out proper processes evaluate evidence in ways that lead to a greater understanding of our universe.

Many of the people in these future debates will claim to have 'science on their side'. Obviously, their opponents will shout the opposite.

Can this be resolved? By science? even when there are overwhelming number of scientist agreeing, at what point is that accepted by society? And how?

Many claim to be 'evidence led' - often by ignoring a lot of other evidence. Often there is conflicting evidence, and how is this assessed.

Much evidence can sound quite convincing, unless you know how to judge it.


Mumbo Jumbo

Doctors must get so annoyed at all of us who do a quick Google then think we know all about our new disorder.

Everything we do has some impact on the environment - which includes ourselves. We cannot live without doing so.

But it can be hard to see the impacts, especially when they are not under our noses, but happening miles away, or even years away.

Most of our risk assessments deal with DIRECT impacts..that is where the hazardous substance impacts on land, air and water.

INDIRECT impacts are the ramifications of the use, and can include social aspects, so can cover anything.

Pesticides are assessed by direct impacts, while GM assessment also includes indirect affects.

CPA boss (Nov '20) says there is now the chance to approve and access pesticides faster then in EU. "Speaking during the CropTec Show’s Brexit webinar last week, Mr Bench said: “In some areas, the UK was doing as much as a third of the work of the EU work programme. "

“I think there is potentially a real benefit if the UK regulator is able to deal with new active substances as a priority and get those to market as quickly as possible, assuming the risk assessment process results in an authorisation for products. That is certainly one of the big benefits we could get the other side of the Brexit process.”

Genetic Modification

GM assessment includes indirect affects.

Government sets up GM consultation


UK may lift ban to help get Trump deal

Ban on gene editing being lifted.

GM assessment includes 'indirect' affects'..which can be just about anything.

Gene Editing (ie where transferred genes come from same species) . "if the UK introduced extensive gene editing practices...the question the UK must ask itself is: will it be worth it? Will the economic opportunities outweigh the potential cost to agrifood exports? Are the implications fully understood?


WHO chnaged classification from 'possible' carcinogen to 'probable'.

The classification of 2a in WHO scheme puts it in same category as red meat and hairdressers' shops


Assessment based on 'toxic' impacts, previously ignored 'behavioural'

The government have given a derogation - controlled use of neonic

The Bee Conservation are clear this has nothing to do with Brexit

Despite many groups saying this is first sign of weakening standards, and shouting 'ban it'

As ex member of ACP I would have been granting derogation not for see dressings but spray, with hazard notification installed. More

Chlorinated Chicken

Prevent Salmonella in flock

Or wash it off with chlorine when dead

According to US government figures, salmonella bacteria - a source of food borne illness, caused about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalisations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year - in a population of 327 million. In 2016, European authorities reported some 95,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonellosis and 134 fatalities based on an EU population of 512 million, including the UK.

This means there is a 4 -5 fold increased risk of dying from salmonellosis due to eating food in US compared to EU..and UK - although in 2018 there were 57 deaths due to salmonellosis in UK. This seems a lot, being twice as many as Germany & Czechia combined.


Continuous prophylatic use

Ractomine Pigs

Used to promote leaness. Banned in 160 countries. More

White blood cells

Numbers of white blood cells in milk indicate infections

The US dairy industry is targeting rules on the number of so-called “somatic” cells allowed in milk. These white blood cells are produced by cows to fight bacterial infections and can be an indicator of conditions such as mastitis.

Rats hairs

The US Food and Drug Administration allows for five rodent hairs (and 150 insect parts) in every 18oz jar of peanut butter calling this an 'unavoidable defect'