Viewpoint: ‘It’s banned in Europe fallacy’ — How advocacy groups weaponize EU’s questionable ‘precautionary’ bans on genetic engineering and chemicals

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The argument, in a nutshell, asserts that something is dangerous or likely dangerous simply because it is banned in some (usually European) countries. It often takes forms such as, “if X is so safe, then why is it banned in so many countries in Europe? All of those countries can’t be wrong.”

So, what do we do when a group like the [European Medicines Agency, or] EMA recommends halting a vaccine?… First, we need to look at precisely what they said, and why they said it, because usually, the situation is far more nuanced than simply, “they banned it.” 

The AstraZeneca situation illustrates this wonderfully. The vaccine was not initially “banned.” Rather, it was temporarily halted while the evidence was reviewed. This was done out of an abundance of caution, and once the possible harms had been evaluated, it was resumed in nearly all countries.

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See how that works? If we are going to go down this road of blindly trusting authority, why should we blindly assume that the countries that ban something are right rather than blindly assuming that the countries that approve it are right, especially when (in a great many cases) the countries that approve it are more numerous than the countries that ban it?

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