Ethical Trade – Body Saron Siki Thu, 24 Nov 2022 07:11:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ethical Trade – Body Saron Siki 32 32 Ethics on the rocks | The star of the day Thu, 24 Nov 2022 02:00:00 +0000

Ethical progress produces a beneficial form of dogmatism. A normal, healthy society does not debate whether rape and torture are acceptable, because the public “dogmatically” accepts that they are inadmissible. In the same way, a society whose leaders speak of “legitimate rape” – as a former Republican congressman in the United States did – or of tolerable torture shows clear signs of ethical decadence, and acts previously unimaginable can quickly become possible.

Take today’s Russia. In an unverified video that began circulating this month, a former Kremlin-linked Wagner Group mercenary is accused of switching sides to ‘fight against the Russians’, after which an unidentified assailant smashes a hammer on the side of the mercenary’s head. When asked to comment on the video – posted under the header ‘The Hammer of Vengeance’ – Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group and close ally of Vladimir Putin, replied: “A dog receives the death of ‘a dog”. As many have observed, Russia’s behavior is now identical to that of the Islamic State.

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Or consider Russia’s increasingly close ally Iran, where young girls who have been arrested for protesting against the regime are allegedly married off to prison guards and then raped, on the grounds that a minor cannot legally be executed if it is blank.

Or consider Israel, which proudly presents itself as a liberal democracy, even though it has gradually come to resemble some of the other religious-fundamentalist countries in its neighborhood. The latest evidence of this trend is the news that Itamar Ben-Gvir will be part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government. Before entering politics, Ben-Gvir was known for displaying in his living room a portrait of Israeli-American terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and injured 125 others in Hebron in 1994.

Netanyahu, who served as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister before being ousted in June 2021, is fully implicated in this ethical decadence. In 2019, The Times of Israel reports, he called for “countering the rise of Muslim and left-wing anti-Semitism in Europe, hours after the [Israeli] The government released a report that the far right posed the biggest threat to Jews on the continent. “Why does Netanyahu ignore far-right anti-Semitism? But he also strongly supports Israel, which he sees as one of the last bastions against a Muslim invasion.

Unfortunately, all of this is only one side of the story. Ethical decadence is also increasingly apparent in the “woke” left, which has become increasingly authoritarian and intolerant in advocating permissiveness for all forms of sexual and ethnic identity – except one. Sociologist Duane Rousselle called the new “cancel culture” “racism in the time of the multiple without the One”. While mainstream racism vilifies the intruder who poses a threat to the unity of the One (the dominant in-group), the awakened left wants to do the same to anyone who has not completely abandoned all old categories of gender, sexuality and sexuality of the One. ethnic group. All sexual orientations and gender identities are now acceptable – unless you are a white male whose gender identity matches your biological sex at birth. Members of this cisgender cohort are enjoined to feel guilty simply for who they are – to be “good about themselves” – while everyone else (even cisgender women) is encouraged to be who they think they are. be.

This “new awakened order” is more and more noticeable in the absurd episodes of the real world. This month, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, USA, is planning to sponsor a student-run event for anyone who’s “tired of white cis men.” The plan was for attendees to “come and paint and write about” their frustrations with “comfortable in skin” white men. Following an outcry and accusations of racism, the event has since been postponed.

There is a paradox in the way awakened non-binary fluidity coincides with intolerance and exclusion. In Paris, the prestigious École Normale Supérieure is today debating a project to create dormitory corridors reserved exclusively for individuals who have made the choice of coeducation/diversity (chosen mix) as their gender identity, in order to exclude cisgender men. The proposed rules are strict: anyone who does not meet the criteria would be prohibited from even setting foot in these corridors. And, of course, such rules would pave the way for even tighter restrictions. For example, if enough individuals define their identity in even narrower terms, they are likely to be able to demand their own corridor.

Three features of this proposal are worth highlighting: it only excludes cisgender men, not cisgender women; it is not based on any objective criteria of classification, but only on a subjective self-designation; and it calls other classificatory subdivisions. This last point is crucial, because it shows how all the emphasis on plasticity, choice and diversity ultimately leads to what can only be called a new apartheid – a web of fixed and essentialized identities.

Wokeism thus offers a quintessential study of how permissiveness becomes forbidden: under a woke regime, we never know if and when some of us will be canceled for something we have said or done (the criteria are obscure ), or simply for being born in the forbidden category.

Far from opposing new forms of barbarism, as it often claims to do, the awakened left fully participates in them, promoting and practicing an oppressive discourse without irony. Although he advocates pluralism and promotes difference, his subjective position of enunciation – the place from which he speaks – is ruthlessly authoritarian, tolerating no debate in efforts to impose arbitrary exclusions that would previously have been seen as unacceptable in a tolerant and liberal society.

That said, keep in mind that this mess is largely confined to the narrow world of academia (and various intellectual professions like journalism), while the rest of society is moving in rather the opposite direction. In the United States, for example, 12 Republican senators voted with the Democratic majority this month to codify the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Cancel culture, with its implicit paranoia, is a desperate and obviously doomed attempt to compensate for the very real violence and intolerance that sexual minorities have long suffered from. But it is a retreat into a cultural fortress, a pseudo “safe space” whose discursive fanaticism only reinforces the resistance of the majority towards it.

Slavoj Zizek, professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School, is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at the University of London and author, more recently, of Messy paradise.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2022

(Exclusive to The star of the day)

Jim Amorin steps down as CEO of the Appraisal Institute Thu, 17 Nov 2022 20:22:59 +0000

Jim Amorin, CEO of Evaluation Instituteannounced his resignation from the valuation trade group on Thursday.

In a statement, the Valuation Institute said Amorin’s five-year term would end on February 14, 2023. The organization said he was “moving on.”

The board will immediately begin the search for a new CEO, the Valuation Institute said in the statement.

The residential appraisal space has been rocked by increased federal scrutiny over the past two years, with several agencies investigating whether appraisers let racial bias alter their appraisals.

At the end of October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency made public for the first time 47 million assessment reports. The ratings, compiled between 2013 and 2021, show that the home appraisal industry places higher values ​​on homes with white owners, and lower values ​​if the owners are people of color.

In November, sociology professors Junia Howell and Elizabeth Korver-Glenn published research concluding that the higher the proportion of white residents in each community, the higher the appraised value of single-detached homes.

The two researchers used census tracts as a proxy for neighborhoods and compared communities with nearly identical housing stock. The study compared metropolitan areas with at least 500,000 people and at least 50,000 residents of color; it looked at residents of the same socioeconomic status who have access to similar amenities, such as parks, grocery stores, banks, and more.

“Home value inequalities are the result of valuation practices that elevate white space as the most valuable,” the report says.

Korver-Glenn and Howell said that since 2013, homes in white neighborhoods have been assessed to be worth $371,000 more, on average, than homes in white neighborhoods. The racial gap itself in appraisal values ​​increased by 75% during this period.

The Evaluation Institute has recognized that it needs to modernize. According to the group’s own statistics, 78% of U.S. reviewers identify as male, 1.3% identify as black and 4.3% as Hispanic. More than 70% of appraisers are over 50 years old.

In an interview with HousingWire in January 2022, Appraisal Institute president Jody Bishop said the group is working to address allegations of racial bias.

“What I can tell you is that the Evaluation Institute is trying to tackle unconscious bias,” he said. “We are trying to improve our diverse recruiting. We push for higher ethical standards. It is a work in progress.

“I can tell you from personal experience that there are biases in my work. I don’t like those split level houses, like the one at Brady Brunch, and that was huge in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I could be considered biased about this type of home. That’s kind of what an unconscious bias is. And we need to understand the actual events that happened.

In March, the Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentThe Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) task force has released an action plan to eliminate bias.

Among the measures to be taken is increased control of the Valuation Foundationa quasi-governmental body that “wields enormous power to set standards and collect fees from the professional appraiser community,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra said in March.

Connect to the beauty of nature with Abel Sun, 13 Nov 2022 23:03:41 +0000

Natural fragrances have been in high demand and are expected to reach a global market value of $20.8 billion by 2024. But for creatives like Frances Shoemack, founder of Abel, it’s not just about creating a product devoid of synthetic fragrance notes, but celebrating the full aromatic profile and benefits that Mother Nature has to offer. From the essential oils to the naturally occurring unique flavor compounds and organic alcohol base in the formulas, every ingredient has been chosen with the utmost discernment.

Based in New Zealand and with products currently sold in 33 countries, the company began in 2011 in Amsterdam, when Shoemack, a winemaker by trade, struggled to find natural fragrances that suited her tastes. Launched in 2013, Abel now offers a curated range of 100% plant-derived, cruelty-free and vegan fragrances, made with ethically sourced ingredients (the majority of which are courtesy of Symrise), packaged in compostable packaging. FSC and Bakelite, sent to customers with low carbon shipping. A portion of the profits are donated to 1% For The Planet and Mary’s Meals.

Created in collaboration with master perfumer Isaac Sinclair, the brand’s latest releases include Pause, designed to balance mind and body in the face of hormonal changes, and Cyan Nori, a fragrance dedicated to the ocean. Pause is a melting floral offering notes of violet leaf, narcissus, mimosa and hay, all chosen for their stabilizing and calming properties. Cyan Nori offsets the plant-derived musk with fruity notes of tangerine and peach, complemented by a salty scent. While the brand started out with eau de parfums, it recently launched a line of alcohol-free extracts, containing therapeutic-grade essential oils with a 25% concentration.

In a true embodiment of the principle of “kill your darlings”, for each new release of the Abel wallet, a product is dropped in an effort to counter excessive consumerism. The company also discloses all ingredients in its formulations, rather than retaining certain ingredients under the “perfume” label, and is currently pushing for broader ingredient disclosure across the fragrance industry, encouraging its customers to take action and to campaign for change.

BeautyMatter sat down with Shoemack to discuss the brand’s international DNA, the evolution and dominant myths of natural perfumery, and Abel’s crusade for increased transparency and an overhaul of ingredients.

To begin with, what parallels do you draw between winemaking and perfumery?

Both disciplines are really where science meets art and finds harmony in olfactory, which is quite a singular similarity between the two. When it comes to how we make perfume at Abel, we’re even more informed by my experience in the wine industry, including how we put ingredients forward. In wine, they say you can’t make good wine with bad grapes, and in perfume, it’s exactly the same thing. The incredible natural ingredients are what make our fragrances so special, complex and long lasting.

How has spending time between New Zealand and Amsterdam influenced your practice of perfumery?

Abel is lucky to have these two amazing places in his DNA. Growing up in New Zealand surrounded by nature has shaped my own experiences and palette, as well as that of our master perfumer Isaac Sinclair. Similarly, for both of us, later life experiences in European global hubs (Paris and Milan for him, Amsterdam for me) shaped the brand’s urban aesthetic.

How would you describe the working partnership with Isaac when it comes to creating perfume?

Extremely collaborative! Normally, Isaac and I sit together in the lab in Paris at the start of perfume development and really solidify the creative concept between the two of us. We continue like this, with very little involvement from the outside world. It’s a great working partnership.

What are the challenges of creating an ethical and sustainable supply chain?

If you try to be truly aware, there are no black and white answers. For example, glass is infinitely recyclable, but also heavy (for transport). It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and make decisions based on your brand values. I’m always skeptical when I hear brands make sweeping statements about sustainability or make them sound simple – it’s not, sustainability is very nuanced. At Abel we combat this by being very open and transparent with our clients so that even if hindsight proves that a decision was not the best, we can show why that decision was made. Basically, we do our best and take our customers with us.

What do you think of the evolution of the natural fragrance category and the rise of clean fragrances?

I’m excited to see a category of natural fragrances starting to emerge. When I launched Abel almost a decade ago, I felt at the time that the fragrance was really behind other sectors in terms of what is often called “clean”. It took several more years since then for the category to really start to emerge. . As with any emerging industry, there is some fine-tuning to be made about what is important or what different terms mean. What’s great is that consumers are ahead of the game, demanding transparency, getting behind brands doing the right thing, and the industry is aware that things can’t go on like they are. have done so, relying on petrochemicals.

The FAA has asked for comment on the small airplane seats. Will they grow? Tue, 08 Nov 2022 21:05:00 +0000


” Cramped “. “Unsafe.” “Torture.”

Many of the more than 26,000 comments on airline seat sizes submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration during its recent public comment period, which ended last week, paint a grim picture of the experience of airlines. passengers on the country’s largest airlines.

The FAA will now sift through those comments and decide whether or not to issue a rule on minimum seat dimensions. But even if you find the economy seats uncomfortable, this review isn’t about luxury; the FAA assesses seat size for passenger safety during emergency evacuations.

“We will review all applicable comments. Our review has no set timeframe,” an agency spokesperson told The Washington Post in an email Monday.

Will we see bigger seats on airplanes in the near future? Here’s what to expect.

Americans are bigger. Should the FAA stop airplane seats from shrinking?

What prompted the FAA review?

Airlines have pushed back on calls from consumer advocates and members of Congress to widen their seats, arguing that the seats are wide enough and far enough apart to allow for quick emergency evacuation, which the FAA says is the main due to seat size revision.

Congress passed the Seat Egress in Air Travel Act, or SEAT Act, as part of the FAA’s reauthorization bill that was signed into law in 2018, requiring the agency to issue regulations on minimum safety requirements. seats “necessary for the safety of passengers”.

In response, the agency conducted mock emergency evacuations and reviewed past incidents involving evacuations, none of which found a need to increase seat size.

“The FAA has conducted and continues to conduct extensive reviews and research of evacuation standards, and there is no factual or data predicate to promulgate additional rules regarding aircraft seat dimensions” , wrote two industry trade groups for airlines, Airlines for America and International. Air Transport Association, in their public comments.

Consumer group urges FAA to stop shrinking airplane seats

These simulated emergency evacuations have been criticized for relying on healthy participants under the age of 60 and not simulating the actual conditions of an emergency, such as cabin smoke and passengers trying to grab their hand luggage. The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General noted in 2020 that these simulations often do not account for tight seating on many airlines.

In an Oct. 27 letter to the FAA, 25 members of Congress called the evacuation study “deeply flawed” and urged the agency to analyze the impact of seat sizes on “all unrepresented demographic groups.” “in the study.

The FAA wrote in a March letter to members of Congress that its studies should be conducted in accordance with “regulatory and ethical standards for human testing,” and acknowledged that the studies “provide useful information, but not necessarily definitive”.

The agency said the public comment period – which ran from August to November 1 – would allow it to better assess the impacts on all passengers, including “children, people over 60 and disabled people”.

Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, said the FAA is likely to “throw this decision down the road” amid intense pressure from the airline industry.

“Airlines don’t want the FAA or any government agency telling them how to run their business,” Harteveldt said. Airlines will likely argue that minimum seat requirements will drive higher fares for customers and set back their sustainability efforts because more seats mean less carbon output per passenger, he said. .

What does “first class” mean?

Harteveldt predicted that, at most, the FAA will set a floor for legroom “where the low-cost airlines currently are,” such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.

Since FAA regulators focus exclusively on safety rather than passenger comfort, major regulatory action should be the result of a safety study indicating that narrow seats are too difficult to evacuate, Harteveldt said. .

He said the FAA needed to redo its evacuation tests with the legroom and seat width offered on low-cost airlines, a completely full cabin, carry-on baggage and a diverse set of passengers, including new travellers, seniors, people with disabilities and travelers who do not speak English.

“Unless the FAA does a really thorough, really objective set of safety-related evacuation studies and bases its conclusion on that, it has no reason to make any decisions,” Harteveldt said.

William J. McGee, senior aviation researcher at the American Economic Liberties Project, said the tightness of modern aircraft seats is a “life-and-death safety issue.”.”

“The FAA has done a very poor job in recent years overseeing emergency evacuation testing,” he said. “Obviously that goes hand in hand with the issue of tighter seats.”

You should practice for your next long flight. Here’s how.

In public comments to the FAA, McGee and other consumer advocates also argued that narrow seats pose a health risk, due to the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis or exposure to food allergies from other passengers. .

“We argued that health is a safety issue,” and therefore under the responsibility of FAA review, McGee said.

Can the FAA force airlines to expand seats?

Outside of FAA regulations, there are few ways to force airlines to increase their seat sizes, Harteveldt said. The FAA’s parent agency, the Department of Transportation, has largely avoided regulating airline business matters since deregulation in 1978, he said.

The only other mechanism by which the seats could expand is through the advancement of seat and aircraft construction. Airlines for America said in a statement that its member airlines, which include most major U.S. carriers, “continue to invest in a wide range of innovative technologies to maximize personal space in the cabin.”

Airbus recently announced a design change to its A350 aircraft that would reduce the thickness of its interior walls, allowing each seat to be 0.7 inches wider in a typical economy nine-abreast configuration, according to Reuters. However, airlines could also choose to use the extra space for a 10th seat in the row, which would result in all seats being 1 inch narrower.

The rules of flight like a decent human

“The days when you could relax comfortably in an economy class seat that was wide enough to be comfortable and had enough leg room are long gone,” Harteveldt said.

McGee recommended that travelers choosing a seat check their flight on Seatguru, which provides information on seat pitch (legroom) and width, as well as reviews of individual seats by other passengers.

McGee said he was optimistic the recent review would “move the needle at the FAA,” but warned that the agency failing to take action now could allow carriers to make their seats even smaller.

“If it doesn’t, the airlines will take it as carte blanche to do whatever they want with the seats,” he said. “And if you think it’s bad now, it’s only going to get worse.”

]]> A philosophy professor publishes a book on ethical consumption Thu, 03 Nov 2022 14:27:26 +0000 Nicole Hassoun reflects on political activism in her second book, “Global Health Impact: Extending Access to Essential Medicines.”

A philosophy professor has examined ethical consumerism and its impacts in her new book, “Global Health Impact: Extending Access to Essential Medicines.”

Nicole Hassoun, co-director of the Institut Justice et Bien-être and professor of philosophy, studies ethical consumption and its impact on global health. “Ethical consumption” is a type of political activism based on the belief that when customers buy a product, they are also buying into the system that produces it, according to Development Education, an online resource focused on modern inequalities. [LINK]. By mass buying one product over another, customers can promote or oppose certain labor or environmental practices. As a result, companies are modifying their products to suit consumer ideals – for example, some products are now labeled as non-GMO or sweatshop-free.

Hassoun said much of the responsibility lies with the consumer when trying to decide which products to buy.

“If we lack the institutions that are going to help us solve these problems – because obviously they haven’t all been solved and our governments often fail to solve them – then maybe we leave it up to the consumers,” Hassoun said. “It behooves us to try to drive positive change forward.”

Ethical consumerism has a long history, according to Development Education. In the late 1700s, many people began petitioning the British government for better working conditions in factories. In 1802, the Factory and Health and Morals Act was passed. It was arguably the first major social justice movement of modern times. In its modern form, however, ethical consumption began to take hold in the 1950s and 1960s, with fair trade initiatives and the hippie movement. People have started to become more aware of the widespread impacts of their purchases.

Tzvi Salzberg, a graduate in philosophy, shared her perspective on the benefits of ethical consumerism.

“I think it has a big role to play in shaping the behavior that you would like to see, but overall I think there needs to be some additional structural or regulatory changes as well as some sort of individual ethical consumption. “Salzberg said.

In his book, Hassoun explains his belief that there should be a global public health label that pharmaceutical companies can put on their over-the-counter products, underscoring their commitment to expanding access to lifesaving medicines in developing countries. Hassoun believes these widespread labels will provide billions of dollars in incentives for companies to improve access to essential medicines. In this system, consumers can determine which companies are saving lives with their medicines.

Jessica O’Keefe, a double major in English and philosophy, politics and law, said she thinks such a global initiative could be effective.

“Hopefully with the long-term encouragement of this label and other types of labels like this, we can gradually begin to support products and companies that align with our values ​​and try to create a better future for all,” O’Keefe said. “We can then weed out the most malicious business practices or capitalist techniques.”

Charles Goodman, director of the philosophy, politics and law program, commented on Hassoun’s work, saying that raising awareness about unethical drinking can promote active change among consumers.

“When today’s ethical consumers realize that by simply choosing certain consumer products, they can help provide the world’s poor with access to the medicines they need, at least some of them are likely to change what they buy, so companies will have a reason to improve their policies,” Goodman wrote in an email. “As a result, more children will grow up healthy and more adults will be able to work and develop their own solutions to the problems facing them and their societies.”

Ethics tends to have many gray areas, according to Development Education. Some practices tend to be universally considered unethical. However, some practices are not as universally considered ethical or unethical, such as bicycling to school rather than driving. Therefore, Hassoun explained that ethical consumption is an imperfect system.

In light of some of its flaws, Hassoun still believes that ethical consumption can be a major tool that can be used to promote change.

“At the end of the day, we have to make decisions that will make things better,” Hassoun said. “And it may be ironic that the best way to help people gain bargaining power is to exercise our own purchasing power.”

Coping with Information Overload: Solutions for Physicians Tue, 01 Nov 2022 02:54:08 +0000 Physicians typically deal with information overload, but there are ways to reduce white noise.

Welcome to Five Minute Practice Fix, with instructional videos by physician and medical business expert Neil Baum, MD These videos are 5 minutes long (this one is a bit longer) and will provide practical insights and suggestions which have been tested in his practice or used by other physicians which greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of their medical practices.

Today’s episode is about how doctors can handle information overload.

About Neil Baum, MD

Dr. Baum is a professor of clinical urology at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Baum is the author of Market your clinical practice ethically, efficiently and economicallyy, now in its 4th edition, has sold over 175,000 copies and has been translated into Spanish. He also wrote The complete business guide to a successful medical practice, which was published in 2015. He has written a book, What’s going on there? which served as a guide to women’s health. He has written ten books on practice management and the business of medicine.

Dr. Baum was the columnist for American Medical News for over 25 years. Dr. Baum wrote the popular column, The Bottom Line, for Urology time For more than 20 years. He has authored or co-authored over 250 articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed medical journals on various urological topics as well as practice management articles.

Dr. Baum recently published a book, The business fundamentals of building and running a healthcare practice,(Springer 2019), which emphasizes the importance of being involved in the business of a medical practice.

The debate over GMOs in our food chain must be able to cross borders – Brian Wilson Sat, 29 Oct 2022 10:26:12 +0000

I may have been swayed by a government scientist I met in a developing country who shrugged his shoulders and said, “If I can grow 50 pineapples from a seed instead of one, why wouldn’t I? “. I figured there had to be an answer, but I sure didn’t know it.

Due to legislation in Westminster, the issue is back on the agenda and the arguments for a review of blanket bans are certainly not without merit. Science is advancing and regulations put in place 30 years ago can now act as self-defeating barriers to beneficial advances and further research, especially at Scottish institutes.

On the other hand, one inevitably suspects that the Gene Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill is driven as much by ideology as by science. The current stance stems from the EU and its hitherto uncompromising anti-GMO policy, making it an obvious target for those seeking ‘Brexit dividends’.

The bill only applies to England, but is a classic example of why it makes little sense to pretend that what happens in one part of our small island does not affect the rest, a reality that the formal borders would not change unless they were really very hard.

The more practical approach is that policy differences must be mutually respected – and it is the duty of the UK and devolved governments to seek safeguards and accommodations rather than deadlocks on this sort of issue. There haven’t been many signs of that so far.

The campaign opposing the bill in England did not ask for its abandonment but for amendments that are part of a “safety first” approach. The Scottish government should join this debate, especially knowing that the EU is also reviewing its policy with particular pressure from France.

For this reason, it is not expected that there will be a ban on UK products from the EU in light of this legislation. A business case review by the Regulatory Policy Committee, which is otherwise critical of the bill, says: “The risk of further trade friction is low” as it is likely that there will be “future movement towards regulatory reconvergence.

We should not turn our backs on the science that can feed the world, although a proper and informed debate is needed about the future of GM crops, writes Brian Wilson.

In the view of the UK government: “Historically, ethical concerns have dominated the GM space, preventing proper consideration of

scientific proof. The government should signal its support for the scientific case for genome editing; and ensuring that science is taken into account alongside ethical debates”.

From this point of view, the moment may be propitious. Rising food prices and shortages cannot be ignored either at home or in the rest of the world. The case against producing more food at less cost must be strong enough to win public support in the current climate, if it can be done without demonstrable risk.

The concessions sought by the “Beyond GM” campaign include the removal of the term “precision farming” which they believe is

misleading; labeling and traceability guarantees; the extension of risk assessment beyond a narrow scientific definition and “further consultation regarding aspects of concern highlighted by devolved government across the UK”.

Meanwhile, Beyond GM says: ‘We are concerned that too few MPs have grasped the full implications of the bill and therefore it may become law without the full debate and major revisions it requires. We urge our parliamentarians to take action to prevent this from happening.

This is an important debate for Scotland as well as for the rest of the UK and our European neighbours. We must not turn our backs on science which can help feed the world. Likewise, it is the responsibility to ensure that technologies are subject to high standards and clear criteria, not only scientifically, but also ethically, socially, environmentally and economically.

The combination of these goals should not be beyond the minds of politicians and a willingness to listen to reasonable concerns will

a first test for Mr. Sunak.

What Covid has taught the world about ethics Thu, 27 Oct 2022 03:04:32 +0000 Role of values ​​in decision-making during public health emergencies.

The Covid pandemic has posed considerable challenges to societies and health systems around the world. Many of these challenges have been technical, such as the development of effective vaccines and therapies. The challenges that have proven most frustrating and controversial, however, are determining the “right” course of action on a number of critical issues: how to allocate scarce vaccines, whether to introduce mask mandates and whether to restrict travel, and whether to intentionally infect research participants in order to test vaccines, to name a few. The “right” decision in these cases is neither a technical question nor resolved by additional evidence; rather, it requires value judgments and, therefore, ethics (see Table 1).

Many policy makers and political leaders around the world have recognized the central role of ethics in addressing these challenges, calling, for example, for a “fair and equitable” allocation of Covid vaccines. Yet this recognition has rarely led to ethically desirable outcomes. Some of the most important lessons of the pandemic therefore relate to ethics and its effective integration into global health decision-making.

Although world leaders frequently invoked “solidarity”, “equity” and “justice” during the pandemic, they seemed unable to elucidate these ethical standards, including how they should be concretely implemented. For example, many calls for a “fair and equitable” distribution of Covid vaccines between countries have failed to characterize what distribution would constitute fair or equitable distribution; while these calls indicated that more vaccines should be provided to low- and middle-income countries, they did not specify how much more would be fair or what sacrifices on the part of high-income countries would be ethically justified to achieve these goals . Ethics provides the moral requirements driven by these standards and helps to navigate disagreements in their interpretation.

Although Covid is new, the ethical issues it raises are not and they do not need to be resolved ab-initio. There is a wealth of knowledge about appropriate values ​​and principles to guide policy during global health emergencies.1-3 Indeed, well-developed frameworks articulate ethical values ​​to address health resource allocation, mandates, challenge studies, and other issues. These approaches have been informed by previous events considered public health emergencies of international concern, such as the outbreaks of Zika, Ebola in West Africa, and H1N1 influenza. Ethical guidance can sensitize policy makers to this knowledge and help them navigate trade-offs between ethical values ​​and implement ethical principles in future health emergencies.

For example, Covid vaccines are not the first scarce health resource to be allocated. Penicillin during World War II, dialysis in the 1960s, and antiretroviral therapies for HIV/AIDS in the 1990s all required prioritization in the context of resource constraints. These challenges have forced the critical examination of practices, the identification of unethical allocation patterns, and the elucidation and critical evaluation of ethical frameworks and policies for the allocation of scarce health resources. .4

Core values ​​affecting the allocation of scarce medical resources.

Analysis of our pre-existing knowledge, on the one hand, and established priorities for resource allocation during Covid, on the other hand, reveals agreement between the two on the importance of five core values ​​in resource allocation. resources: maximizing benefits and preventing harm, mitigating disadvantages, reciprocity, instrumental value and equal moral concern (see Table 2). Explicit acknowledgment of these values ​​helps elucidate key ethical considerations, but additional information is needed to determine which values ​​should take priority in particular circumstances.

We would argue that maximizing benefits and preventing harm should be viewed as a presumed priority, as any benefit that generates more death or serious illness should be viewed with suspicion. But this value should not be given absolute priority; it must be balanced and shaped by the other four values, which help to clarify, for example, the weight to be given to the distribution of advantages and disadvantages between different populations. These values ​​also impose constraints on the maximization of benefits in accordance with ethical commitments to social justice. For example, already disadvantaged groups should not be further disadvantaged by the allocation of resources in emergencies. Therefore, prevention of harm in less advantaged populations is particularly important. Similarly, in public health emergencies, medical personnel are often given priority for resources not because they are more worthy but because of their instrumental value: their work can save the lives of many other people, thereby maximizing benefits and preventing harm.

Other frequently invoked ethical principles, including transparency, engagement and responsiveness to evidence, are procedural in nature. Unlike substantial values, they do not determine the allocation of resources, although they can make those allocations more equitable. Indeed, ethical decision-making processes go beyond the articulation of values ​​and principles. Allocation schemes must also be translated into fair policies which are then implemented with fidelity. In the case of allocation, these policies take the form of priority levels of populations. Procedural principles shape and constrain the process of translating values ​​into priority levels and their implementation in the world.

While it is naive to expect unanimity on the allocation of resources, mandates or health challenge studies, we do not have to revert to the debate on core values ​​when they are already clear. Continuing with this multi-value framework and pre-existing ethical knowledge may not “solve” these questions, but it may facilitate faster policy formulation and enable decision makers to publicly communicate the ethical rationale for policies. Such communication should help build awareness, trust and compliance.

Ethical values, however, cannot apply or resolve conflicts between them. Positioning ethics to meaningfully inform decisions requires changing the policy-making process. Ethics must be considered at the start of any response to a health emergency. Government policies should be expected to be not only evidence-based, but also explicitly grounded in ethics. During an emergency, decision-makers call on epidemiologists and others to contribute their expertise and experience to policy formulation; they should also appeal to ethicists to inform a coherent ethical response.

How to operationalize this approach? First, like epidemiology and vaccine development, ethics cannot simply be activated in an emergency. Institutional capacity and memory cannot be built or restored ad hoc. Agencies responsible for responding to public health emergencies should have trained ethicists on staff, regularly involved in scenario planning and advice.

Second, this function cannot be fulfilled by a single token ethicist. As Covid has proven, the many ethical issues require a competent team with complementary capabilities and skills, able to fully consider the complex global, regional and local impact of emergency planning and decision-making. pandemic. We need to build capacity to expand expertise in public health ethics.

Third, before an emergency occurs, personnel ethicists can draw on pre-existing knowledge to anticipate common issues, such as allocation of scarce resources, mandates, isolation protocols, and research studies. challenge. Then they can elucidate approved frameworks that incorporate well-accepted ethical values. Using these frameworks, they can develop potential policies for implementation. Ethicists could also translate these frameworks into checklists that can be used by policy makers to ensure they take into account relevant ethical considerations when responding to an emergency.5 Staff ethicists can seek feedback on their proposals from experienced ethicists and the public (including disenfranchised populations) to refine a working ethical framework and an initial set of policy considerations.

Finally, ethics must be integrated into emergency decision-making. Ethicists should be at the table when policy is being formulated, rather than simply serving as external critics.

The world has not yet had time to fully elucidate the lessons of Covid and apply them to preparations for future emergencies. But policymakers should heed the lessons of the pandemic by appreciating the ethical, not just technical, dimensions of all the challenges encountered during emergencies; starting from existing knowledge on the right values ​​and principles to guide policies; and ensuring that ethics expertise is present before an emergency response is designed and is effectively incorporated into decision-making. Achieving these goals will require a sustained and focused effort to build the ethical capacity of key global, national and local public health organizations, academic institutions and government agencies.

Who is running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner on November 8? Sun, 23 Oct 2022 10:00:00 +0000

The Texas Capitol on June 1, 2021.

The Texas Capitol on June 1, 2021.


Sid Miller

Political party: Republican

Did not respond

Susan Hays

Political party: Democratic

Age as of November 8, 2022: 54

Campaign website:

Occupation: Lawyer

Education: UT-Austin, BA Humanities (1992); Georgetown University. Law Center, J.D. (1996)

Have you ever been a candidate in an election? (Please list former offices searched)

Dallas County Democratic Chairman (2002)

Please list the highlights of your civic engagement:

Member, International Cannabis Bar Association

Co-Founder, Former Chief Legal Officer and Member of the Legal Advisory Board, Jane’s Due Process, Inc.

Equality Texas Foundation, Board Member (2019)

Beto O’Rourke for the Texas Senate/Democratic Party, Voter Protection Project (2018)

Board Member, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, Advisory Board

Committee for a Qualified Judiciary, Dallas, Texas (2005-2012)

Who are the top three contributors to your campaign?

Erin Fonté, Village Farms LP, Annie’s List and Don Henley (tied)

What is the most important distinction between you and your opponent(s)?

Ethics, and I’ll do the job. I’m not here to set up a partisan agenda or start petty fights. My opponent, Sid Miller, is an outcast in his own party. The Republican-dominated Texas legislature is far more likely to trust me than Sid. I can work with anyone by bringing honesty and skill to the table — skills that have earned the endorsement of three former Texas Supreme Court justices who all served as Republicans.

My opponent has been through an assortment of scandals since taking office, like using a state plane to get to personal errands, like getting shot for back pain. You can see a summary of its many ethical shortcomings at I also understand how to get things done within government. The Ag Commissioner must maintain a good relationship with the Legislative Assembly and the federal government to marshal resources for programs such as school meals, meals on wheels and the state Office of Rural Health.

What are the three biggest problems in this race?

1. The corruption and scandal surrounding Sid Miller, such as the indictment of his political consultant for trying to sell $100 hemp licenses for tens of thousands of dollars.

2. Rural health care and economic development, including increased support for rural hospitals

3. Legalize Cannabis – in a smart, measured, and robust way, it gets it right – unlike Oklahoma or California.

How would you approach trade with Mexico as Commissioner for Agriculture?

Primero, hablo español. Entonces, by forging partnerships, particularly in the field along the border. Where Texas once enjoyed an elastic labor force given seasonal help from Mexican workers, we are now importing food from Mexico, rather than growing it ourselves, farmers on the border turning to import. This change has been exacerbated by the refusal to recognize Texas’ needs for immigrant labor, whether in the agricultural sector or in other areas of the economy. As Agricultural Commissioner, I will work to identify infrastructure bottlenecks and resources to address them so Texas agricultural producers can find markets in Mexico rather than lose out due to labor market imbalance. and the worsening of our trade deficit.

Should Texas relax its marijuana laws? Would you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational and/or medical use? As Commissioner of Agriculture, if marijuana were legalized, what would be your role in overseeing its production given that it is a crop and how would you approach this task?

Yes, we should reform the laws, including legalizing both medical and recreational use, where my opponent only wants to develop medical cannabis. If we simply decriminalize without legalizing (i.e. regulating), you open the door to the black market. As a cannabis attorney, I’ve studied other states’ laws and how they pass or fail. I would work with the Texas Legislature to craft strong laws to provide safeguards for public health and safety while providing economic opportunity for farmers and entrepreneurs. You can read my detailed critique of the current Texas law and roadmap for reform at

The Agricultural Commission should regulate the cultivation of cannabis given the ministry’s expertise in pesticide regulation. To summarize the details posted on my website, I would approach regulation with a focus on public health and safety while maximizing business opportunities for Texans.

How will you work to ensure that children, regardless of economic status, have access to healthy school meals?

One of the first things Sid did in office was “forgive” cupcakes and other fatty, high-sugar foods as a joke, then bring them back to school cafeterias. I will work to create incentives for school districts to get their food locally sourced, provide healthy options for kids, and get kids interested in farming. We need to make sure kids in Texas learn how farming works, where their food comes from, and how it’s made – and show those in urban and suburban areas that growing food is for city kids, too. . Children should be fed regardless of their economic status. Hungry children cannot concentrate and therefore cannot learn. Helping them become productive members of society starts with a good meal.

What most voters probably don’t know about the Texas Department of Agriculture that you think they should?

That the State Office of Rural Health is at TDA, as well as rural economic development efforts. Both offices are underutilized by the incumbent. In fact, he wanted to cut funding for rural hospitals and meals on wheels during the pandemic.

As Agriculture Commissioner, how would you promote transparency within the Texas Department of Agriculture?

By setting an ethical example with my leadership above all else. Compared to the holder, it’s a pretty low bar but I plan to exceed it 100 times. If elected, I will shine a light on the operations of the Agricultural Commission, starting with simple things like clear information on the website about who to call if you have a problem with a particular program and expanding reporting on how funds are allocated and distributed and what measurable returns we get for this investment.

]]> Can Fintech be a force for good? Thu, 20 Oct 2022 00:59:34 +0000

Many people are actually no strangers to these technologies. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used to analyze huge volumes of data and enable service providers to get to know their customers better or perform due diligence on a scale that was not possible before. At the architectural level, cloud computing and quantum computing have enabled the scale, flexibility, and speed needed to handle huge volumes of data.

We have also seen how blockchain has transformed the way data is captured and authenticated, laying the foundations for cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Meanwhile, opportunities abound in specialized functions such as cybersecurity to keep the fintech ecosystem secure, as well as developing APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow different applications to interoperate.

These technologies have transformed financial services, from payment to credit, including investment and insurance. Loan and insurance applications can now be validated and processed more quickly. Investors can trade easily with AI portfolio management tools and high frequency trading. Indeed, with the emergence of cryptocurrency, even the very notion of money is being questioned.

Crypto and FOMO

When cryptocurrencies were first launched, they were greeted with exuberance, just like most technological leaps. This is why markets are marked by bubbles and crashes, Fang noted. Fear of missing out (FOMO), fueled by social media, the media and the influence of market influencers such as Elon Musk and Cathie Wood, has prompted many to jump on the bandwagon of cryptocurrency.

At the same time, financial platforms like Robinhood have brought cryptocurrency trading to the masses, in the form of commission-free trading via a mobile app. Fang warned that platforms that gamify investing tend to make investing look cheap and easy while minimizing the risks investors face.

In the world of crypto, the peer-to-peer money system is designed in such a way that everyone is responsible for their own actions and money. While cutting out middlemen smacks of freedom, it also means there’s no safety net or possibility of government bailouts if things go wrong.

On governance and ethics

Traditionally, financial services such as banking and insurance are heavily regulated to keep providers compliant with mandatory standards and ethical behavior. While technology has radically changed the delivery of these services, the fundamentals of finance remain.

On the other hand, tech companies – most of which operate in less regulated environments – are racing ahead in the fintech landscape. Thus, the entry of tech companies into a traditionally highly regulated space has created regulatory gaps, which need to be filled. Regulations simply do not keep pace with technological developments. Blockchain technology, for example, is designed to decentralize data governance, authentication, and protection. Unlike a bank, it cannot be shut down by the government.

While blockchain proponents insist that the technology’s distributed architecture cannot be hacked, cryptocurrencies are stolen daily in reality. At the national level, the introduction of digital currencies by central banks can put volumes of data into the hands of governments, giving them unparalleled power and surveillance capacity, Fang warned. Ultimately, the merits of the technology depend not only on design, but also on human actors and governance, she said.

On a positive note, some regulatory convergence is being seen as governments make banking licenses mandatory for mobile banking providers. Globally, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision plays an important role in setting standards and regulations for cryptocurrencies.

Can fintech be a force for good?

Disruption in the financial sector has forced financial service providers to “self-disrupt” in order to catch up technologically and do better. By lowering the cost structure of providing financial services, fintech lowers the bar and makes financial services more accessible to more people. Ultimately, fintech can reduce inequality by enabling financial inclusion.

In 2007, telecommunications companies Vodafone and Safaricom revolutionized banking in Kenya with the mobile banking service M-Pesa. In a country where only 14% of the population had a bank account, the service enabled the vast majority of Kenyans to be part of the financial system without the need for bank accounts or credit cards. By improving access to financial services and enabling commerce, technology has lifted more than 2 million people out of poverty over the years.

In another example, insurtech (the combination of insurance and technology) leverages blockchain technology to improve access to insurance. Insurers such as AXA offer customizable insurance – known as parametric insurance – to compensate its customers against the probability of predefined parameters such as floods or drought. By reducing the cost of insurance while providing broader, customizable coverage, it closes the gap to conventional coverage. This has enabled businesses that typically fall through the cracks – such as micro-farmers – to manage risk and do more with limited resources.

Don’t lose sight of the basics

Ultimately, not all financial and economic problems can be solved by technology. To assess the merits of technological innovations and solutions – including fintech – Fang urged managers and consumers to put these questions first:

  • Does the company have a real purpose?
  • What is the problem the company is trying to solve?
  • Is he using the right way to solve it?
  • What are the motivations behind the offer?

“We need a healthy dose of understanding that technology won’t solve all the problems,” Fang said. “At the end of the day, we still need judgment.”