Our Managing Partner, Mr. Enrique Martin, has been one of the speakers in the interactive debate held in VITAFOODS EUROPE in Geneve last Wednesday, May 10th. VITAFOODS is the global nutraceutical event for ingredients and raw materials for the dietary supplements and functional food and beverages industries.
He debated with Mrs. Katia Merten-Lentz, Partner of Keller and Heckman LLP, on the topic of Regulation. They discussed if concerns over data and privacy, or lobbying by threatened incumbents, will cause regulator to slow down the pace of innovation.
Summary of his intervention:
“Let me start by saying that, if there is a conflict of rights, freedom comes first than innovation. However, in my opinion, the biggest enemy of both are the Regulators and not the industry. I am not afraid of industry but of Regulators, as freedom and entrepreneurship walk together.
I would like to highlight the issue of the freedom of choice of consumers, for instance when they are looking for a personalized nutrition, confronted with the needs of safety and social control. As in many other aspects in modern societies, Regulatory policies in the nutraceutical sector reflect the debate between safety and freedom. Governments and populist movements use fear as a tool of propaganda to control and manipulate population.
In his very prophetic novel A BRAVE NEW WORLD, Aldous Huxley imagined a society slaved by the drug of happiness, the so-called soma (nowadays we could talk about the drugs of health, beauty and youth). In the novel, the totalitarian rulers give their citizens exactly what they believe they need.
EU institutions are moving forward to regulate almost every aspects of our lives, to protec us from ourselves. Many citizens reject the interference of bureaucrats in their own, personal, free decisions. There must be a line where our free will must prevail over the right of Governments to impose on us their standards, even if they pretend they do so for our own good.
Obviously, consumers are primarily citizens. If they can vote they can choose. I defend the free will of average consumers – normally intelligent, observant and circumspect- provided that they receive accurate, scientific based information (that in electoral processes, actually, they do not receive). Regulators must control nutritional and health claims, and also the uses of personal data. But I defend the privacy of consumers, when they establish a direct contact with a nutraceutical provider through an app or a web based service. This is also a matter of civil rights.
I also defend the right of competition of EU industry. It is quite a paradox that EU institutions permit the sale of homeopathic products in pharmacies, when it has been demonstrated that they are no more than placebos. They also permit shamans, healers and gurus to provide their strange services in our countries. On the contrary, the EU regulatory is complex, lengthy and expensive and impede EU compete with equal conditions with companies that enjoy in their home countries a more relaxed, industry focused, legal environment. You cannot defend the rights of EU consumers without an EU industry. Thus, the smaller the regulation the greater the freedom and innovation.”