Sunday, October 07, 2007

domination of government advisory panels by industry representatives and other vested parties

I'm reading George Monbiot's Captive State. Its excellently researched and its message is clear and well presented. Here's a piece from his chapter on the subject heading:

"Until the day before he became Minister for Science and Technology, another sub-committee, called the Food Chain Group, was, as I mentioned in Chapter 8, chaired by Lord Sainsbury. His report, published like all the others by the government's Department of Trade and Industry, expressed the hope that in the future 'the precautionary principle is abandoned'".

Nice. The chapter is full of examples of supposed bastions of public interest either voicing the corporate line or actually advocating the reduction, removal or reversal of legislation protecting the public in order to ease the burden of responsibility on the corporation or corporations in question. Call me idealistic but I was under the impression that government was there to protect the public against exploitation; not to fund, facilitate and defend such exploitation in the name of some overarching capitalist principle which generates wealth for a minority at the expense of the majority. Corporations already have ample scope to turn empty, sociopathic gestures into good publicity and increased revenue. Some might consider a little too much, even.

Another example:

"The Retail and Consumer Services Foresight Panel, chaired by Sir John Banham, the head of Tarmac, warns of the 'potentially dire' impact of growing concerns about the environment. The consequences of these concerns, such as 'increasing difficulty in carrying out green field developments coupled with attempts to restrict traffic and reduce congestion', would result, inexplicably, in 'fewer women . . . working', 'cuts in state pensions' and a collapse in living standards."

Hmmmmmmmmm, and why is this disaster capitalism model being financed and promoted with our taxes again??

There's so much more in the book- you have to read it!


"While openness has long informed the ethics of science, corporations demand confidentiality. Information that the companies find uncomfortable can be withheld, even when it arises from projects half-funded by the government: The LINK programme, for example, grants discretion over whether or not to publish results to the corporate partners. The free flow of ideas is further impeded by the need to secure corporate intellectual property."

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