NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 20, 2006

Despite previously publishing obviously flawed papers, the British journal The Lancet has gone off the deep end again, says Henry I. Miller, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. This time its over-REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) involves the proposal to increase regulation of chemicals in Europe.

The problem with REACH, and Lancet's support of it, argues Miller, is that it would extend the bogus "precautionary principle," which focuses exclusively on risks -- often purely hypothetical ones, at that -- and diverts consumers and policymakers from seeking possible solutions to known, significant threats to human health.

Additionally, says Miller, REACH could have a huge economic burden on Europe:

  • The European Commission's own estimates range up to €5.2 billion (about US $6.3 billion) for the program, but authors of a study produced by the Nordic Council say the price tag could be as much as €28 billion (about US $34 billion).
  • SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) which cannot consistently fulfill the REACH requirements will be among the most likely to have financial troubles, say the authors of a study conducted by consulting firm KPMG on behalf of the European Commission.
  • Small and mid-sized firms represent more than 99 percent of EU businesses, and account for two-thirds of the jobs. The imposition of REACH will increase unemployment and diminish competition.

In the interest of free markets and economic growth, says Miller, there needs to be global regulatory policies that make scientific sense and that encourage innovative research and development, not undue regulation.

Source: Henry I. Miller, "The Lancet Pricks Itself," TCS Daily, March 3, 2006

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