Bean forecast brighter than corn | News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Wind blows through a yellow cornfield west of Sleepy Eye Wednesday. While some ag leaders say we’re heading towards a decent harvest, others say it’ll take a lot more corn and bean seeds than usual for a bushel this fall.

NEW ULM — The latest U.S. drought monitor for Minnesota shows the worst conditions yet this year with 55 percent of Minnesota in severe drought or worse.

It’s the first time this year most of Minnesota is in severe drought.

All drought categories increased over the past week. Extreme drought increased from at least 10% to 16%.

As of Sept. 7, Marshall’s summer moisture deficit was 7.52 inches. That compares to deficits of 9.32 inches at Rochester, 7.79 inches in the Twin Cities and 5.04 inches at St. Cloud.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President and Lincoln County soybean and corn farmer Bob Worth said shallow kernels are being found in fields.

“I think the last week took an immense toll on corn and beans,” said Worth. “They ripened way too fast with this kind of heat. I think they’re hurt a lot more than people realize. The whole summer was dry. The recent heat and wind was too much. This is our third year in a row of drought.”

“Most of what we hear from farmers on chopping isn’t very good,” he added. “It’s unreal to get three drought years in a row. We’ve got no moisture going into next year. We need a lot of fall rain. Thank goodness for federal crop insurance or a lot of us wouldn’t survive.”

South Central College Farm Business Management instructor Wayne Schoper said some of the corn may be used for silage or livestock feeders, if it’s got high moisture.

“I think we’re heading towards a decent harvest. Some beans got August rain, and could yield 50 bushels an acre or more,” said Schoper. “I think most corn will be 180 to 190 bushels, depending on when and how much rain it got.”

Schoper said new crop corn is about $4.60, compared to $6.50 last year, bringing $400 less on 200 bushel corn.

“Forward contracting may help. It’s going to be a break-even year for corn,” he added. “Bean prices of $13 will make more than corn at current prices.

“We need to see input costs come down. Repairs are at an all-time high. Long-term, we hope to maintain or make a little money,” Schoper said. “We have high world stocks of grain. Distribution is the problem.”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an American activist group that specializes in research and advocacy for agriculture subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability, reports the federal crop insurance program will continue to get more costly for farmers and taxpayers.

“Currently, the program discourages climate adaptation,” reports the EWG. “Reforming crop insurance to encourage farmers to adapt to a changing climate will help make them more resilient to increasingly chaotic and destructive weather, cut costs and reduce agriculture’s climate crisis contributions that account for at least 11% of U.S. emissions.”

“Without meaningful reform, the federal crop insurance program will become too expensive for farmers and taxpayers,” said agricultural economist and EWG Midwest Director Anne Schechinger. “Lawmakers have many options for undertaking farm bill reforms including reducing premium subsidies for farming on high-risk land and cutting payments to crop insurance companies and insurance agents.”

The EWG reports big agribusiness allies are pushing to trade direct payments for a system that guarantees income – at taxpayer expense – for the wealthiest corporate agriculture businesses that are already doing far better than most of the U.S. economy.

The organization calls for providing every farmer with a free crop insurance policy that covers yield losses of more than 30% and eliminate federal premium and other subsidies for revenue-based or other crop insurance insurance products to save $26 billion in premium subsidies over 10 years.

In addition, the EWG promotes the federal government taking bids from insurance companies to service policies, eliminating windfall profits and encouraging the private sector to develop and offer innovative options for farmers to increase insurance coverage, but not at taxpayers’ expense.

The EWG proposes full transparency requiring the USDA to make available information about who is getting free policies, taxpayer cost for providing policies and how much farmers receive in insurance payouts. The proposal would generate about $80 in savings over 10 years, according to the EWG.

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How a supplement company became a haven for misinformation


On a Friday afternoon in July, as many New Yorkers fled the scorching city streets, a couple of dozen out-of-towners descended on Times Square. They came bearing gold letter balloons spelling out LFVN, the stock symbol for LifeVantage, the company they’d come to promote, and foam cutouts of its navy blue supplement bottles. LifeVantage’s chief executive officer, Steve Fife, rang the Nasdaq exchange’s closing bell, a celebration of the Utah-based company’s new products and rewards programs. Displayed on the side of the seven-story Nasdaq building were advertisements promoting the company’s dietary supplements and their power to “optimize health.”

At first glance, LifeVantage, worth some $84 million, looks decidedly mainstream. It boasts plaudits from Nasdaq, has blue-chip investors like Fidelity and BlackRock, and Erin Brockovich, the iconic crusader for corporate accountability, sits on its board of directors. Its products are widely available; a bottle of its main supplement goes for around $56 on Amazon.

But in interviews with LifeVantage distributors, executives, and former scientists, as well as in court filings, documents obtained through records requests, and online material, a pattern emerged in the way the company and its representatives have sought to straddle the mainstream and the fringe.

LifeVantage and some of its distributors promote — and in many cases, distort — scientific evidence to tout the benefits of the products they’re selling. While that might be common among supplement companies, what has experts and some employees uniquely concerned is how LifeVantage has capitalized on conspiracist thinking about Covid-19 and the broader health care system to draw customers and sellers looking to resist mainstream medicine altogether.

“Don’t be afraid to rise up and go with what you know,” Erin Brockovich told a crowd of 5,000 elite LifeVantage distributors at a 2019 gathering, alluding to her high-profile fight to hold a gas company to account for polluting groundwater. “We are finally owning ourselves and going, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so. That isn’t working for my health — and let me please be in charge of my own health and what I know is happening to me.’”

But the sheen of academic science and Wall Street, and the emphasis on personal wellness, has obscured what former employees say is a growing push within LifeVantage’s massive salesforce to undermine evidence-based medicine and promote shoddy science.

At the 2022 Health Freedom Summit, an online event that featured a number of prominent anti-vaccine advocates, two of the company’s distributors appeared onscreen to promote Protandim. One, Andrea Ebert, went on to suggest, without evidence, that the supplement might reverse what she characterized as harmful effects of the vaccines against the coronavirus, using talking points commonly used by anti-vaccine groups to tout the supplement.

“Maybe you or your loved one have been coerced into getting this jab, and had serious and deep regrets, and are suffering health-wise from it,” she said.

Nathalie Chevreau, a biochemist who served as a senior scientific researcher for LifeVantage from 2014 until 2019, told STAT that distributors also routinely made inaccurate claims — including, in some cases, that the products could help with cancer — at corporate events.

“When the distributor[s] came onstage and would start talking, sometimes my hair was standing up,” Chevreau said. “We’d have to go and stop them, and say ‘you cannot say that.’”

Like some of its competitors in the dietary supplement space, LifeVantage uses a choreographed multi-level marketing operation, relying on some 54,000 active independent distributors to recruit even more salespeople, sell its flagship supplement, Protandim, and push product lines aimed at weight loss, skin care, and pets. In private online gatherings, Facebook groups, and Zoom sessions, distributors are trained to promote Protandim’s purported ability to reduce oxygen-free radicals, and to suggest that scientific evidence supports a broad spectrum of potential benefits.

“LifeVantage is very proud of the science that backs our products,” Fife told STAT, adding: “People want to take control of their own destiny, physically and financially.”

LifeVantage claims that Protandim increases the activity of the Nrf2 pathway, which produces antioxidants in the body. Joseph M. McCord, a biochemist credited with inventing the Protandim compound who went on to serve as the company’s lead scientific officer, gave occasional talks to LifeVantage distributors describing how components of the supplements — such as plant extracts, like milk thistle or ashwagandha — might regulate a biochemical pathway by switching on particular genes.

“You may not have any idea what I just said,” McCord told an audience of elite distributors in 2010. “But you have a job — you have an obligation — to learn what this means.”

McCord co-authored around 17 published studies on LifeVantage products. In some in vitro lab studies, and in others using mice, Protandim appeared to reduce oxidative stress, a measure of the presence of oxygen-free radicals or other reactive species. The studies include one conducted under the auspices of the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, published in the peer-reviewed journal Aging Cell in 2016. Among its findings: Protandim increased the median lifespan of male mice by 7% — which the paper characterized as a “small but statistically significant” change that wasn’t seen in female mice.

In an interview, McCord noted that not all the research was primarily funded by LifeVantage, and said the studies suggested the Nrf2 pathway was a promising avenue for continued research and development in the supplement space.

But he acknowledged that few conclusions could be drawn about Protandim’s effectiveness in humans, and that the long-term safety in humans has not been studied.

A handful of small-scale studies have evaluated Protandim’s effects in humans; by the researchers’ own account, “results were mixed.” A study of 29 adults published in 2005 suggested Protandim reduced measures of oxidative stress after a month, but lacked a placebo group. Another, published in 2016, looked at 38 runners to see whether the supplement improved their performance, or reduced a measure of oxidative stress, over a period of 90 days, and found that it did neither. There is no research demonstrating that reducing oxidative stress can improve health outcomes, though limited studies have linked oxidative stress to a range of health issues.

Yet LifeVantage promotional materials and distributor pitches tend to spin these results positively.

It’s not uncommon for supplement makers to make claims that raise eyebrows. The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate dietary supplements, but, unlike drugs and biologics, these compounds aren’t approved for safety and effectiveness before they hit the market. When the FDA does crack down, it’s often because problems have emerged. The Federal Trade Commission has oversight of marketing in the U.S., but it and the FDA face sisyphean tasks in a ballooning industry where advertising increasingly takes place via private channels.

Even with this latitude, LifeVantage has run afoul of regulators. Though its previous incarnations date back to 1988, the company has existed in its current form since 2005, when smaller supplement makers merged to form LifeVantage. It originally sold Protandim Nrf2 Synergizer through retail outlets like GNC. Around a decade ago, having shifted to a multi-level marketing model, LifeVantage began to ramp up spurious claims about the power of its natural compounds to halt or reverse effects not only of the aging process, but of conditions including cancer and Alzheimer’s. These claims might have resonated with those seeking alternatives to mainstream medical treatment, or who were desperate to treat serious health problems with few other options.

But the claims were in some cases false or wildly misleading. In April 2017, the FDA warned LifeVantage to stop making claims related to disease prevention or treatment. The CEO at the time, Darren Jensen, responded that “LifeVantage reaffirms its commitment to compliance and to not marketing its products for the prevention or treatment of cancer or any other disease.”

Still, McCord told STAT he has serious concerns about how LifeVantage and some of its representatives have regularly twisted research to market products. One of the reasons he left LifeVantage in 2013, he said, was its tendency to prioritize marketing concerns over scientific ones. When LifeVantage remade itself as a multi-level marketing company, this issue “went from bad to worse,” he said. “I thought it was an inappropriate way to sell a fairly serious product.”

Following the FDA warning letter, LifeVantage appeared to lean more heavily on disclaimers that its products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease,” and instructed its distributors to do the same.

In a statement, a LifeVantage spokesperson wrote that the company “has multiple approaches to ensure that our Consultants” — the company’s term for its distributors — “make legal, truthful and not misleading product claims,” including a policy that prohibits unauthorized personal testimonials and “any claim that LifeVantage products are useful in the cure, treatment, diagnosis, mitigation or prevention of any diseases or signs or symptoms of disease.” The company works to educate its representatives and to take action against problematic pitches, the statement said.

And it noted that “our Consultants are independent contractors” who “sometimes challenge our Policies and Procedures.” In these cases, the statement said, “we take appropriate action.”

But that hasn’t stopped some distributors from toeing the line of truth.

While they might contain disclaimers, recent videos from distributors, including those among the company’s elite ranks — who have recruited top-performing teams — routinely flout that call for caution.

For example, in a video posted online in November 2020, April Wagner, a distributor high up in the company’s ranks, primarily addressing prospective LifeVantage distributors, highlighted the purported benefits of products including a new formulation of Protandim.

“What if you could have the blood of a 20-year-old, or extend your life by 7%?” Wagner asked.

Paul Coates, former director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, reviewed many of the scientific studies on Protandim, including the one demonstrating a 7% increase in lifespan for male mice, and said he found them to be largely well designed, if small in scope. But Coates also said the company and its representatives regularly went too far in their statements. “The claims are not supportable by this kind of study,” he said.

In internal meetings, distributors themselves have raised concerns about the accuracy of information some representatives use to sell products. In an April 2019 Zoom meeting, a recording of which was reviewed by STAT, led by Charlotte Venter, an elite distributor based in Australia, sellers expressed alarm at what they characterized as inaccurate material that had too often crept into pitches, such as that a probiotic product could help with gluten intolerance.

One distributor told the group she worried that sellers might “take some of these things as gospel and then go and duplicate that, not only to their teams, but potentially to customers.”

Shortly after STAT contacted Venter to ask about the video, it was removed from her YouTube channel.

By the time the pandemic hit, LifeVantage was poised to benefit from fear and confusion around this new health threat, as well as a newly remote labor pool.

In a May 2020 Instagram post, the company shared a line graph of its share price labeled “LifeVantage Stock During Quarantine,” a short-lived bump that saw its stock price rise from about $10 in March 2020 to upwards of $16. Text above the chart read: “Surprised by what you see? We’re not.”

Though there was little evidence to support claims they could ward off or help treat Covid-19, dietary supplements became an attractive option for those seeking remedies based on natural compounds, including individuals in anti-vaccine circles and other groups who resist mainstream health guidance. The global market for supplements grew 7.5% in 2021, ending that year at nearly $60 billion — a figure that dwarfed predictions issued before the pandemic, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

LifeVantage is one of a number of supplement makers that have lately gained traction with fringe alternative-health activists, who see its messaging around self-determinism as resonating with their particular concerns, and as signaling an openness to unorthodox attitudes towards health.

The public-health restrictions implemented to curb the effects of Covid-19 catalyzed a growing number of activists who make up the “health-freedom movement.” The movement champions the notion that individuals should make their own decisions about health, even when those choices contradict the consensus of doctors or public-health officials. And its members have long fought for a supplement market free of regulatory oversight.

These dynamics represent a front in a larger battle over truth, said Thomas H. Murray, president emeritus at the Hastings Center. The movement’s rhetoric is an echo, he said, of “our inability as a country to agree on who is trustworthy and what is true.”

Those disagreements flared during the pandemic, when even basic health information became a target for skepticism or misinformation.

Fife, the LifeVantage CEO, said the company was “very careful” not to tie product launches to the pandemic.

But language in distributor pitches has invoked Protandim’s purported ability to repair damage from the virus, or supposed adverse effects from the vaccines.

Online, distributors have suggested that Protandim could help fight off Covid-19. In a clip that Wagner, the elite distributor, posted to TikTok in September 2021, she holds a yellow caplet in one hand and a Protandim bottle in the other, and urges viewers to try “one of these magic tablets” that have been “medically studied.” Protandim, Wagner said, “will increase your glutathione by over 300% — glutathione is our master antioxidant, and there are even studies on Google Scholar that show increasing glutathione levels will inhibit the Corona disease.” (The relevant papers appear to be surveys of previously published literature — not clinical studies conducted since the onset of the pandemic.)

“The idea that these supplements would be marketed in a way that people have a higher risk of using these sham snake oil products is outrageous,” said Bryn Austin, professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If people turn to supplements marketed with claims of boosting immunity,” Austin said, it’s likely they’re not following the evidence on what would actually protect against Covid-19.

Kelsey Brennan-Patrick, who owns a dance studio in Phoenixville, Pa. and has been a LifeVantage distributor for around six years, told STAT that in the early days of the pandemic, “we were all trying to understand and figure out what this virus was.” She said she was aware that claims that Protandim could prevent or treat illnesses including Covid-19 were off-limits. But anecdotally, she’d heard that the supplement might help mitigate symptoms. (This is not supported by scientific evidence.)

“It was hard for us, as a company, because we could not communicate it like that,” she explained, citing the company’s disclaimers around preventing or treating disease. “So we had to be very compliant and just kind of lead the horse to water.”

Ebert, the distributor who presented at the Health Freedom Summit, said she was aware of other sellers within the company who shared her skepticism of public health regulations and vaccines, and who saw the supplement — which she has called a “golden bullet” — as a step toward health freedom.

She told STAT she leads a team of around 100 distributors and isn’t opposed to science, but questioned the motivations of health officials who established vaccine mandates and the companies that manufactured them — a common anti-vaccine talking point.

“In the medical world, there’s science spelled with an ‘s,’” Ebert said, “and then there’s science spelled with a dollar sign.” (Researchers have estimated that the vaccines, and the massive campaign to make them accessible to the public, have saved as many as 3 million lives in the U.S. alone.)

In a follow-up message, Ebert told STAT she could not categorize the beliefs of other LifeVantage distributors, and reiterated that “we never claim to cure, prevent or mitigate disease.”

Without large-scale controlled studies demonstrating Protandim actually helps people, LifeVantage has had to rely on a series of ever more aggressive sales tactics hinging on fragments of limited findings.

Health-freedom groups spent the height of the pandemic stoking mistrust as a fundraising ploy, and now court new audiences for hawking products and ideology alike. A company that says its products are backed by “science” — yet stands to profit as science deniers in its sales force tout them as a panacea of choice — harms consumers, health misinformation experts said, by pushing falsehoods along with pills.

Meanwhile, as it rings in a “strategic transformation,” including a revamp of product offerings, such as a new line of collagen products, and distributor-compensation plans, LifeVantage is also in search of fresh scientific talent. In a job posting currently live on its website, the company seeks a senior research scientist with a “commercial mindset.”

After all, it reads: “we are in the business of monetizing products and ideas, not conducting research for the sake of research.”

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Causes of the coal mine collapse in N. China’s Inner


Rescuers on the site of the collapsed coal mine in Alxa league, North China's Inner Mongolia on February 23, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Rescuers on the site of the collapsed coal mine in Alxa league, North China’s Inner Mongolia on February 23, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

A coal mine that collapsed in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in February and killed 53 and injured six, causing direct economic losses of over 204 million yuan ($27.99 million), was a production safety responsibility accident resulted from a long-term existence of major hidden risks, China’s State Council announced the investigation result of the accident on Tuesday. 

A total of 19 people from the relevant company have been arrested or placed under investigation and 42 public servants involved have been punished or investigated, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

According to the accident investigation team of the State Council, the accident occurred in the open-pit coal mine located in Alxa Left Banner, Alxa league, Inner Mongolia, on February 22 resulted from multiple inducements including carrying out production while the coal mine was under construction, illegally outsourcing the construction work of the coal mine to the company without qualification. 

Besides, the dereliction of supervision and inspection duty of relevant supervision departments and authorities also led to the long-term existence of the major risks and hidden danger and eventually led to the production safety responsibility accident. 

The Communist Party China Central Committee and the State Council attached great importance to the accident and ordered the all-out rescue efforts. The authorities ordered a scientifically organized rescue and to enhance monitoring and early warning to prevent secondary disasters. Besides, the causes of the accident were ordered to be identified in a timely manner and individuals responsible for the accident have to be strictly held accountable. 

The investigation team thoroughly investigated the accident through methods such as on-site inspection, survey testing, computational analysis, reviewing documents, interviews and discussions. They reviewed more than 1,300 volumes of documents, conducted on-site inspections 17 times, and held interviews with 231 individuals. All these efforts allowed them to identified details related to the casualties, direct economic losses, progress of the accident, causes and information about the involved enterprises. 

According to the investigation, the direct cause of the accident was the construction of the coal mine which did not follow the initial design of the project and the improper operation of coal mining led to instability and eventual collapse of the coal mine. 

Besides, inadequate emergency response and failure to promptly organize on-site personnel for evacuation resulted in significant casualties and property damages. 

The main problems exposed by the accident include severe illegal construction and production activities in the coal mine, reckless illegal actions of the company, the deception committed by the intermediary agency and supervision company, as well as lax and ineffective oversight and supervision from the relevant departments and authorities. 

In response to the problems exposed by the accident, the accident investigation team summarized five main lessons learned from the accident including the weak safety development concepts, repeated mistakes, loose supervision and poor quality of hidden danger investigation and rectification, as well as the severe lack of corporate accountability, and poor safety conditions in small mines. 

The authority also put forward six rectification and prevention measures including carrying out a comprehensive investigation and rectification of hidden dangers of major accidents in mines. 

19 people from the relevant companies suspected of committing crimes have been placed under investigation by the public security department of Inner Mongolia, including 13 who will be arrested. 

Meanwhile, 42 public servants from the local government departments including the Inner Mongolia bureau of the National Mine Safety Administration have been seriously dealt with, including six government officials who have been placed under disciplinary inspection and investigation for the suspicion of severe violations against disciplines and laws, as well as involvement in criminal activities related to their official duties. Among them, Li Zhongzeng, head of Alxa league, was given a serious warning within the Party. 

Global Times

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Why Biden’s methane fee could backfire


Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Today we’re wondering if it’s worth ordering from the new Sweetgreen outpost in the Cannon House Office Building. We think not. 

Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Climate 202 to get scoops and sharp analysis in your inbox each morning.

In today’s edition, we have an exclusive on Senate Democrats pressing the Treasury Department on climate risks in the insurance industry. But first:

Biden will put a fee on methane emissions, but oil companies are underreporting them

President Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, largely offers carrots for polluting industries to cut their emissions. But it also has a powerful stick: the Methane Emissions Reduction Program

Starting next year, the program will require oil and gas companies to pay the first-ever federal fee for their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The charge starts in 2024 at $900 per ton of methane, increasing over time to $1,500 per ton by 2026.

Yet for years, oil and gas companies have significantly underreported their methane emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency, according to numerous scientific studies and a recent congressional report.

If not implemented properly, the program could incentivize companies to continue underreporting their emissions to avoid hefty fees, environmentalists say.

“It’s inevitable that companies will have an incentive to underreport from a purely financial perspective,” said Hannah Story Brown, a senior researcher who co-leads the Revolving Door Project’s climate and environmental work.

Josh Eisenfeld, corporate accountability communications manager at Earthworks, agreed. “Why would a company not underreport if it meant saving them tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars?” he said.

The EPA says it is working to address these concerns. The agency in July proposed changes to its emissions reporting requirements for oil and gas systems that it says will improve the accuracy of emissions data.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is moving urgently to reduce climate pollution, and EPA is working to ensure science leads the way with the most accurate emissions data possible,” Joseph Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a July statement.

The Methane Emissions Reduction Program will impose a fee on oil and gas companies that already disclose their methane emissions to the EPA under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Yet in a 2021 study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers found that field measurements of methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas operations were 1.5 to two times greater than EPA estimates.

A report released last year by Democratic staff on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee similarly found that oil and gas companies have internal data showing that their methane emissions in the vast Permian Basin “are likely significantly higher than official data” reported to the EPA.

  • The report focused on the Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico because it accounted for 42.6 percent of U.S. oil production and 16.7 percent of U.S. natural gas production in 2021.
  • The committee relied on anonymous responses from 10 companies, including Admiral Permian Resources, Ameredev II, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Coterra Energy, Devon Energy, ExxonMobil, Mewbourne Oil, Occidental Petroleum and Pioneer Natural Resources.

Jennifer Brice, a spokeswoman for Occidental, one of the largest producers in the Permian, said in an email that the company “is committed to responsible environmental performance and proactively manages greenhouse gas emissions using innovative technologies to reduce flaring and methane emissions.”

Dustin Meyer, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said in an emailed statement that the industry has worked to curb its climate impact, noting that “methane emissions intensity has declined by nearly 66 percent across all major producing regions.”

The EPA’s proposed rule, which was mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, would take “important steps to address potential gaps in methane emissions reporting,” agency spokesman Nick Conger said in an email.

  • The proposal emphasizes the importance of new methane monitoring technologies, such as satellites and aerial flyovers.
  • In addition, the proposal would require oil and gas companies to report certain “large emission events,” which could include massive methane leaks known as “super emitters.” 
  • Cracking down on super emitters could be a relatively quick way to slow global warming, scientists say, since methane is roughly 80 times more effective at trapping heat during its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

“With the super emitter phenomenon, the majority of emissions are due to a few large sources,” said Jeff Rutherford, director of research and development at Highwood Emissions Management, an oil and gas data startup.

The EPA’s proposed changes are “quite encouraging,” said Rutherford, who was the lead author of the 2021 study on methane measurements as a PhD student at Stanford University.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), whose panel crafted the methane program, applauded the agency’s quest for more accurate data.

“We included the first-ever fee on excess methane pollution from the oil and gas sector in the Inflation Reduction Act because reducing methane emissions is a critical part of meeting our climate goals and slowing global warming,” Carper said in an emailed statement. “Still, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Exclusive: Senate Democrats press Treasury on insurance industry and climate

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) yesterday urged the Treasury Department to collect comprehensive data on how climate change is upending the insurance industry, according to a letter shared exclusively with The Climate 202.

In the letter to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Federal Insurance Office Director Steven Seitz, the lawmakers pointed to recent decisions by insurance companies to reduce coverage in disaster-prone areas, saying they could leave consumers more vulnerable to climate-related financial risks.

“Despite recent climate disasters highlighting the risks of skyrocketing insurance costs and insurer retreat, the Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) has, to date, failed to collect comprehensive and transparent data about the impact of climate change on the insurance industry, leaving vulnerable communities, consumers, and the economy at greater risk from the climate crisis,” the senators wrote.

The Democrats asked the agency to respond to a list of questions by the end of the month about its plan to solicit data from major insurers “to better assess the impact of climate change on insurance availability and affordability, including in communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”

The push comes ahead of a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on insurance today. Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Exclusive: Clean-energy leaders ask Congress to restore R&D tax deduction

A group of 210 business leaders in the clean-energy sector is calling on Congress to reinstate a lapsed provision in the tax code that allowed companies conducting research and development to fully deduct those expenses in the year they were incurred, according to details shared exclusively with The Climate 202. 

In a letter that will be sent to every congressional office today, the business leaders write that “this new policy change runs counter to the major public-private investments the U.S. is making in clean tech innovation through recently-enacted policies and will have a dampening effect on market pull.”

The provision lapsed in 2022 because of a budgetary adjustment in the 2017 Republican-led tax bill. Bipartisan bills in the Senate and House would restore the provision, although they have not yet passed. The most likely vehicle would be an end-of-year tax package.

If the provision is not restored before the next tax season, clean-energy companies could be forced to lay off employees, delay projects or even shut down, the letter says. “We call on Congress to address this issue with the urgency our small business leaders deserve,” it says.

Biden to block oil drilling in ‘irreplaceable’ Alaskan wild lands

The Biden administration yesterday moved to protect more than 10 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope from development, prohibiting oil drilling across large swaths of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and canceling all seven outstanding leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were issued under President Donald Trump, The Washington Post’s Timothy Puko reports. 

On a call with reporters yesterday, administration officials said they found that the Trump administration failed to meet requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze alternatives or to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from development on the refuge, which had been protected for decades before Congress ordered lease sales there in 2017. 

The separate proposal to protect the reserve, which is the nation’s largest expanse of public land and is home to an array of Arctic wildlife, effectively bans oil and gas production across 10.6 million acres. But it leaves 2.4 million acres open for future drilling and would do nothing to halt ConocoPhillips’s Willow project, which the Biden administration approved there this year under intense political pressure. That project is estimated to produce 576 million barrels of oil over the next 30 years, locking in decades of planet-warming pollution.

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Data security and IP protection: lessons from Meta


British mathematician Clive Humby shared a glimpse of things to come when he said in 2006: “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined, it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc. to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”

Humby’s analogy has perhaps been misunderstood over the years to imply basic commodification, but what has come to be is the immense capital contained within processed data. And with this incredible worth comes the need to protect it. How can Intellectual Property (IP) rights and procedures be applied to safeguard commercial and privacy interests?

In May this year, the European Data Protection Board fined Meta €1.2 billion and ordered the company to bring its transfers of user information into compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The decision – involving the largest GDPR fine to date – shows the necessity of having strict data protection policies that conform with all relevant laws, especially if collection, storage and usage cross borders.

The fine concerned Facebook’s copying of user records from the European Union to the United States, where it was saved and processed. Privacy groups had raised concerns that U.S. intelligence agencies could also access the information of non-citizens once it was relocated by social media companies, search engines and other major digital service providers.

“This decision is flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and US,” wrote Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta, and Jennifer Newstead, its Chief Legal Officer, in a blog post. They also confirmed that the company will appeal the decision.

Meta argued that Facebook used standard contractual clauses (SCCs), like many other international companies, and that these were in line with the GDPR. Moreover, the social media giant noted that policymakers in the EU and the United States were working to implement the Data Privacy Framework (DPF) following an agreement between U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last year.

The significance of data

Meta claims that all companies that move data between jurisdictions are in a similar position to Facebook. “The ability for data to be transferred across borders is fundamental to how the global open internet works. […] Thousands of businesses and other organisations rely on the ability to transfer data between the EU and the US in order to operate and provide services that people use every day,” wrote Clegg and Newstead.

Storaging and analyzing data is massively expensive, but the repercussions of mishandling it can be even more costly. Steep penalties can erode trust in a company’s ability to safeguard sensitive information, whether it relates to customers or its own trade secrets.

Data is a critical asset for many companies. It can include personal information on customers, staff or other stakeholders, financial and commercial statistics and business-critical knowledge. Digitalized intelligence has the potential to transform healthcare, enable more accurate forecasting and streamline business processes. In turn, this makes it essential to the development and training of machine-learning tools.

Perhaps drawing inspiration from Humby, in 2021, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Daren Tang described data as the fuel of the future economy. But while the value of information as an intangible asset is increasingly recognized, its legal status remains complex. Depending on how it is created and kept, data may be guarded using established IP mechanisms such as trade secrets, database rights or copyrights. However, copyright protection may not be applicable in many cases as it requires human originality in the generative process.

The use of personal data in business also raises sensitive questions about transparency and fundamental rights, such as ownership and privacy. The GDPR was an attempt to address these issues and has been influential in Europe and beyond. But, as the Meta case shows, in today’s global connected economy, enterprises need to understand how records are governed in every jurisdiction where they operate.

A data protection strategy

Given its sheer importance, every company, however big or small, should have policies and procedures covering how data is compiled, used, shared and secured. The risks of failing in this due diligence can include regulatory fines (as Meta has found) and jail sentences, loss of trade secrets, cyberattacks and damage to consumer trust.

An individual’s contact details, purchasing decisions, medical history and financial records may all be saved by legitimate organizations. At the same time, this information is very lucrative to criminal actors. Keeping this data off the black market is a constant challenge for cybersecurity specialists.

Key security topics that all companies should consider include:

  • Ownership and licensing: Do contracts with staff, customers and business partners clearly define what data is covered and to whom it belongs? Are these sufficiently flexible to accommodate future developments and innovation?
  • Data mining: Where non-proprietary copyrighted data is used (for example, in training text- or image-based generative AIs), does permission from the rights holder(s) need to be obtained or does an exception apply? The law on this question varies between jurisdictions.
  • Personal data: Special rules govern the storage and processing of personal information, including users’ right to access it. It is, therefore, vital to identify what constitutes this type of data and ensure that processes are in place to manage requests in a timely and thorough way.
  • Trade secrets and confidential information: Many valuable corporate assets exist as files that need to be kept safe from competitors. Departing employees pose a particular risk: There have been many high-profile cases where staff have been accused of taking confidential information with them to a new job. One of the most recent examples is the spat between X (formerly Twitter) and its new rival Threads (owned by Meta). Strong contracts, limits on access to sensitive files and enforceable termination procedures are needed to avoid problems arising.
  • Transfer across borders: The Meta case highlighted the specific liabilities that arise when moving data between jurisdictions with different regulatory systems – an issue that potentially affects all international entities. On July 10 of this year, the European Commission adopted an adequacy decision for the EU-U.S. DPF after the United States introduced enhanced safeguards for personal data. This decision recognizes that GDPR stipulations are satisfied, allowing data to flow between the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United States without being subject to additional conditions or authorizations.

Data protection and compliance are ever-present concerns for modern businesses, but that does not mean they should be a constant stress. Establishing best practices will facilitate day-to-day operations while experienced legal counsel can advise when conditions change.

The price of failure

Crude, unrefined data is plentiful, but awareness of how to gather it responsibly and ethically is less common. In light of the potential commercial value of digital information, this gap must not grow too wide or businesses may unknowingly fall short in their duties of care. Consumer protection, corporate accountability and data security must all be active and recurring considerations, especially as the relevant law continues to evolve.

While many large companies have dedicated data compliance teams, in smaller businesses, these tasks may fall to people already performing onerous functions, including IP counsel or chief information officers. This presents the danger of overburdening those staff members who act as the lynchpin of innovation activities. Inundated with workflows, even the most astute IP manager or legal expert can misjudge regulatory obligations. Though fines on the scale of Meta’s are reserved for only titanic data handlers, they are a sobering wake-up call to the possible consequences.

And the taste of success

Whatever their industry, enterprises must seek advice to ensure that all data matters are covered and the risks are properly managed. In upholding full compliance with national and international regulations, organizations reassure their clients that personal information is rightfully entrusted. It follows naturally that this confidence on the part of investors and customers is reflected positively in revenue streams, and if all data is processed and protected fittingly, additional income generation may become possible.

Just as oil can cause devastation if it is released carelessly, so too must a tight seal be kept on this precious intangible resource. Treated respectfully, businesses and the general public share the benefits of an interconnected, digital economy. 

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Q&A: Ben Hallman on the launch of The Examination


In 2018, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, invited me to embed with a project that it coordinated to investigate medical devices, a four-hundred-billion-dollar industry—making pacemakers, breast implants, and more—whose products were inconsistently regulated and frequently caused patients injury and even death. The project, which brought together hundreds of reporters in thirty-six countries, was something of a departure for ICIJ, which had recently made a name for itself by drilling into massive leaks of offshore financial data and incriminating the global super-rich. The devices project, by contrast, involved the herculean task of collecting data from sources all over the world—what one staffer described to me as a “patchwork quilt” approach. And the story was not about the world of finance, but public health.

When I embedded with the investigation, one of my key points of contact was Ben Hallman, the lead reporter on the story. At the time, Hallman became more aware “of this big gap in coverage of health issues, global health issues especially,” he told me. Five years and one pandemic later, and Hallman is now striking out as founder and executive director of The Examination, a nonprofit news site that will launch next week and promises accountability reporting on the global public health beat—from tobacco to the fossil-fuel industry, via food—in partnership with news organizations large and small around the world. The Examination has so far received financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Pulitzer Center, and Hallman has assembled a team that includes his fellow ICIJ alums Asraa Mustufa and Will Fitzgibbon, as well as Raquel Rutledge, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist formerly of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ahead of the launch, I caught up with Hallman about his plans for The Examination, the state of global collaborative journalism, and what he makes of this moment for nonprofit news following high-profile layoffs at other outlets. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

JA: What was the inspiration for
The Examination?

BH: I’ve been an investigative journalist for two decades. Throughout my career, I’ve looked for stories and subjects that I feel have massive human implications but are relatively undercovered compared to the threat they pose. We’re coming at the global health beat from the understanding that some of the gravest threats to human health also receive the least attention. We’re especially focused on the ways in which commercial activity—industrial products and practices—intersect with human health, being informed by the research around it. I don’t think there’s really any more important beat than that.

We last spoke in the context of the medical devices project that you worked on at ICIJ. I’ve noticed that you’re bringing some other ICIJ folks over with you to The Examination. Is there any ICIJ spirit baked into your new site? How do the two compare?

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We are terrifically inspired by ICIJ, which is an amazing news organization that does just stunning work. Like ICIJ, we are going to operate across borders. Like ICIJ, we are going to develop deep relationships with news partners, especially in places in the world where we feel the problems we’re writing about are most acute. And there are some ways in which we’re probably going to diverge as well. We have a beat focus—a narrower focus than ICIJ does. I think that allows us to develop a depth of experience and expertise around public health. We’re a mix of folks who have investigative reporting experience, corporate accountability reporting experience, and now we’re adding a couple of folks with really deep public health reporting experience as well. Hopefully, we kind of meld that together and have a formidable squad.

What are you looking to do differently when it comes to coverage of global public health?

Let’s just start with health reporting in general: my contention, and I think this is backed by the evidence, is that a lot of newsrooms, especially in the modern age, lack even a single health reporter—which is insane, given there’s no issue it feels should be more important to readers. And the communities that are most impacted by a whole range of health threats are the very same communities that traditionally have gotten the least amount of attention from Western media. So we want to help bridge that gap.  

Can you talk about any of your early stories?

We have a project that involves smoking in China; we’re working on that with a large European partner and a Chinese-language news outlet that is based offshore. We are working with a large US partner about the ways in which health professionals disseminate potentially misleading information online. Will Fitzgibbon—who was ICIJ’s Africa partnership coordinator, and probably has more experience working with African journalists than any other Western journalist—just got back from Cameroon, and he is working on a story about a very specific health threat that is endangering the children of a community there; he’s been working on that project directly with his Cameroonian counterpart. We have a story about chemical regulation in the US. We have an explainer story that helps to unravel the science around vaping. I’m hoping that this suite of stories at launch will help show the public what we’re about and what our priorities are.

A key theme of my article on ICIJ’s devices project was the state of global collaborative journalism, and how that particular story represented a departure from ICIJ’s previous blockbuster investigations in that it required stitching together a story from disparate sources and data sets. Since then, we’ve only seen that type of global investigation become more common. What are your reflections now on the state of global collaborative journalism, compared with the last time we spoke about this five years ago?

I have a lot of reflections. I’ve been doing collaborative journalism for twelve or thirteen years, initially as a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, and it was very common for us to hit major roadblocks in approaching partners about collaboration—they didn’t get it, they didn’t understand, they didn’t know why they would want to do it. There’s been a massive sea change over those years, thanks to places like CPI, ProPublica, ICIJ, and more. And now the doors are open, and it’s really wonderful. There’s just a wide acceptance throughout the news industry that collaborations can be beneficial. 

Like with all things in life, the relationships really matter, and those are built on trust. Just because a partnership sounds cool doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good idea. So I do think that I’m probably more choosy about partners than in the past. Some of the ICIJ collaborations, while amazing, involved dozens or even hundreds of partners. ICIJ has built an entire infrastructure to help manage that. We’re not going to have that, so we feel like the sweet spot for us is going to be a collaboration of two or three newsrooms. We want to ensure that every major investigation we have includes a partner from wherever it is that we’re focused on—that’s sort of a given—and then ideally we want a larger partner as well: first of all so they can provide valuable reporting and editing, but, frankly, so the stories can maybe reach power brokers who have the power to change conditions. If we were to stumble upon some massive trove of documents, maybe we would call up ICIJ and have them help organize a mega-collaboration. But I don’t think that that’s going to be the norm for us.

We’re talking at an interesting time for nonprofit news: the Texas Tribune just executed the first layoffs in its history, which led to a lot of concern in the industry given that the Tribune had been held up as a model for other nonprofit outlets to follow. Futuro Media also recently made layoffs. What’s been your experience of launching a new nonprofit news site in this kind of environment? Have you faced any of these same challenges?

There’s no segment of the news industry that is not challenged by economic forces. Local media has been decimated; everyone but a very small handful of the largest newsrooms is struggling in some way, and even some of them are as well. I think it makes [sense] that, a decade into the nonprofit-news revolution, as it were, there would also be some growing pains in this neck of the woods. I don’t have any insight as to what happened at the Texas Tribune. I think it’s an amazing news organization, really a trailblazer. They’re also pretty big, and have a different model to what The Examination is going to pursue. 

Ultimately, I think that it’s incumbent on us to proceed with a clarity of mission and be able to execute that mission over and over again. I think successful nonprofit news organizations are ones that can do that. I don’t see a retreat in funders from journalism—I think it’s actually the other way around; I think, increasingly, philanthropic organizations are interested in donating to journalism. There are some, obviously, that support journalism for journalism’s sake, but everyone else, they need to be shown why it makes sense for them to support a news organization rather than a whole bunch of other potential priorities. What I try to do, and what I think a lot of journalists are trying to do, is be able to speak to what the return on investment is. I know that’s a weird phrase for a journalist, but that’s how a lot of funders think, so we have to think that way as well. We’re writing stories that we believe can inspire positive change. I just don’t see a for-profit solution to this coverage gap that we’re trying to fill.

Other notable stories:

  • During (and since) the Trump era, books about the former president have juiced sales for publishers—but Politico’s Daniel Lippman reports that books about Biden haven’t generated anywhere near the same level of interest. “What makes for stable governance makes less dramatic copy,” the literary agent Keith Urbahn told Lippman. The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer is trying to buck the trend with his new book on Biden, out this week.
  • Digiday’s Sara Guaglione dug into recent workplace-diversity reports released by Gannett, the Washington Post, and Insider, and found “very little—if any—change in overall employee diversity year over year.” The Post and Insider did improve the diversity of their editorial staffs, but the diversity of their overall workforces showed less change, and leadership diversity at the three outlets didn’t move much either.
  • Ahead of hosting the G20 summit this week, India’s right-wing government has referred to the country, on official invitations, as “Bharat”—presaging a possible effort to officially change its name. Government allies say that “Bharat” is interchangeable with “India,” which has colonial overtones, but critics see the change as exclusionary of Muslims. The Post has more (and I wrote about how the media should handle country name changes).
  • Recently, in the UK, Peter Wilby, a former editor of the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman, was convicted of possessing images of child sexual abuse. For The Observer, Dean Nelson, an investigative journalist, alleges that Wilby once worked to kill his reporting on the abuse of children in care—and that Wilby went on to lead a backlash “against whistleblowers, victims and journalists who paid too much heed to their claims.”
  • And CJR’s Jem Bartholomew profiled Fabrizio Romano, an independent journalist who has come to dominate the frenzied business of reporting on soccer transfers and, as a result, may now be “the most famous reporter in the world.” Romano’s “magic trick has been getting people to trust him in a business that often runs on suspicion,” Bartholomew writes, “building a reputation for accuracy, speed, and trustworthiness.”

ICYMI: What is media criticism for?

Jon Allsop is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, and The Nation, among other outlets. He writes CJR’s newsletter The Media Today. Find him on Twitter @Jon_Allsop.

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When ‘horror movie’ tactics fail to frighten


Enter Nestler and Egloff

Nestler and Egloff undertook two studies that considered the interaction between the threat level of safety messaging and the effect of those threats on individuals. In their first study, carried out in 2010, they explored the effectiveness of threat appeals in health and safety messages when delivered to those who are cognitively avoidant.

The study first tested participants to measure their cognitive traits and rated them as having high or low cognitive avoidance. Participants were then provided with two safety messages from fake news reports that linked caffeine consumption to a fictitious gastrointestinal disease called ‘xyelinenteritis’ and recommended that people should reduce their caffeine intake in response to this threat. The first version of the news report was a high-threat message as it linked xyelinenteritis to cancer and stated that the participant’s age group was particularly at risk. The second version of the news report was a low-threat message and did not include links to cancer or age group vulnerability. Once the participants had read the articles they were asked to rate their attitudes on reducing their caffeine consumption.

The results showed that when participants were presented with a high-threat message, those who had low cognitive avoidance were more likely to reduce caffeine intake than those who had high cognitive avoidance. Individuals who had high cognitive avoidance had judged the high-threat appeal to be less severe than the low-threat appeal and were less likely to reduce caffeine consumption.

Importantly, the highly cognitive avoidant participants were also more responsive to the low-threat appeals than participants with low cognitive avoidance. This result can be explained by the fact that people who are highly cognitive avoidant minimise threats as a coping mechanism and consequently will not be persuaded by a threat appeal’s recommendation. Therefore, for people who are cognitively avoidant, frightening health messages are, according to this 2010 study, counter-productive. Constantly repeating the same message (‘Be safe or die’) loses impact very quickly. 


New threat levels

In a subsequent study (2012), Nestler and Egloff varied not only the threat level, but also the efficacy level of the recommended action (how able the participant felt to effect a change in behaviour). This study demonstrated the effect of efficacy in health and safety messages when delivered to those who are cognitively avoidant.

Four versions of the fictitious news reports that linked caffeine consumption and an invented gastrointestinal disease were produced. Two high-threat versions linked xyelinenteritis to cancer and stated that the participant’s age group was particularly at risk, while the two low-threat messages omitted this information. The two high-efficacy versions recommended that a reduction in caffeine would result in a reduction of risk in contracting xyelinenteritis to a 15% likelihood, while the low-efficacy version recommended that even if caffeine consumption was reduced, the participant still had a 75% risk of contracting xyelinenteritis.

Results showed cognitive avoidance did not affect intention to change behaviour when the proposed action was ineffective. In low-efficacy conditions, all participants presented with a low-threat appeal were not motivated to adopt the recommended actions. When presented with a high-threat appeal, low cognitive avoidant participants engaged with the proposed solution, albeit to a lesser degree, whereas highly cognitive avoidant participants curtailed the processing of the threat and did not engage in the solution.

However, when the proposed action was effective, in high-efficacy conditions, low cognitive avoidant participants engaged with the proposed solution and were likely to change their behaviour, whereas highly cognitive avoidant participants curtailed the processing of the threat and judged the threat to be less severe. As expected, the results showed that all participants were more likely to adopt a recommended action if presented with a high-efficacy solution. However, results also showed that highly cognitive avoidant individuals will not change their behaviour, regardless of a solution’s efficacy. 

Beyond scaremongering

Those who champion scare tactics as a form of safety message often believe that such appeals will be successful if they contain a serious threat but also provide an effective means of avoiding it. Nestler and Egloff’s studies demonstrate that this is incorrect as not all people will respond to such a message in the same way. Instead of giving all individuals the same threat communications, messages should be individualised.

Business leaders like to see tangible data, positive outcomes and solutions-driven approaches. The furore of negative press coverage, threat to share price and impact upon employees are all far more realistic consequences of a safety incident than prison time. An educated director is likely to know already that the HSE prosecutes few individuals but may not have thought about the wider context of a serious incident. Indeed, research on the effects of message repetition suggested an inverted U-shaped relationship between the number of message repetitions and the attitude towards the message content (Reinhard et at, 2014).

Such ramifications can be explained without scaremongering, and in our experience the rise in corporate accountability lends itself to a more sensible, logical approach of setting out such messages within the realities of the current economic and regulatory climate. 

Safety messaging is essential for frontline workers too. It is common to find that long-standing employees who have done the same job for many years are more resistant to change – even where this is essential to protect their own health and safety. Complacency often sets in and, alongside it, high cognitive avoidance. Again, measured conversations about potential impact, examples of positive outcomes or seeking to positively engage individuals through awards and recognition for good safety behaviour will, in our experience, have far greater impact.

Paul Verrico is global head of Eversheds Sutherland’s EHS practice; Catherine Henney 
heads the Manchester H&S team

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Asean pushes for inclusive business models for sustainable


The Sixth Asean Inclusive Business Summit, hosted by Indonesia, emphasised the importance of establishing a conducive environment for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and for large businesses to adopt inclusive business (IB) models that contribute to inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

With the theme “Incentivising Businesses for Inclusive Growth,” the summit focused on the significance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in building an IB ecosystem in Asean through enabling policies, from accreditation, coaching, to innovative financing schemes.

Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs of the Republic of Indonesia Teten Masduki appreciated Asean’s efforts in strengthening regional commitment to inclusive business through the convening of the first High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Inclusive Business. He stated, “The High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Inclusive Business is a historic event for Asean as it brings together ministers dealing with MSMEs to exchange views and reaffirm our commitment to driving inclusive and sustainable business practices in Asean.”

During the summit, Asean scaled up its commitment to IB by hosting the inaugural High-Level Ministerial Meeting for Ministers responsible for MSME development in Asean Member States (AMS). At this meeting, AMS exchanged good practices to promote the adoption of IB models and adopted the “Declaration on Promoting Inclusive Business Models : Empowering Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for Equitable Growth”.

Through the statement, AMS recognised the important role MSMEs play in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, generating employment, and reducing poverty as well as the contribution of large businesses in driving productivity and stimulating income-generation activities. They also acknowledged the potential of the IB model in achieving economic, commercial, and social objectives.

Guiding this high-level commitment is the Plan of Action for the Promotion of Inclusive Business in Asean (2023-2027), which was endorsed by the Asean Economic Ministers during the 55th  Asean Economic Ministers’ Meeting on 17 August in Semarang, Indonesia.

The Plan of Action will focus on four priority areas, namely, strengthening policy advisory support for AMS to develop and adopt policies and strategies to promote IB; supporting businesses in developing and integrating inclusive and sustainable business models through coaching services to develop IB models and linking MSMEs to larger companies; establishment of financial vehicles to pilot innovative financing instruments to provide access to finance for inclusive businesses; and establishing an Asean IB knowledge hub to generate awareness and share information and resources on IB.

Dr Le Quang Lan, Director of Market Integration of the Asean Secretariat, on behalf of the Secretary-General of Asean Dr Kao Kim Hourn, welcomed the timely endorsement of the Plan of Action as Asean prepares for the transformative forces that are reshaping the global economic landscape. He further offered recommendations vis-à-vis the implementation of the Plan of Action, to promote inclusivity in Asean’s approach in addressing its key priorities, namely, digitalisation, green economy and supply chain resiliency.

In collaboration with the Asean Business Advisory Council, Asean presented the Asean Inclusive Business Awards to ten businesses to showcase exemplary inclusive business models from businesses across all the AMS.

 “Inclusive businesses are different from business-as-usual as they put people and planet alongside profit, and are therefore, a critical accelerator if we are to get back on track on the SDGs. ESCAP is committed to move inclusive businesses from the margins to the mainstream,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“The Asean Region – with its ambitious development agenda, integration in global value chains, and strong economic fundamentals – will benefit from inclusive business models,” said OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann. “The OECD continues to provide policy analysis and advice on best practices to support inclusive businesses and policymakers in Asean in putting these tools into practice. Looking ahead, the OECD stands ready to build further on our strong cooperation and support the development of an Asean Knowledge Hub to advance the Plan of Action.”

On the importance of businesses and sustainable development, Dio Herdiawan Tobing, Head of Public Policy for Asia at the World Benchmarking Alliance, appreciated Asean for prioritising businesses as drivers of inclusive and sustainable growth. He stated, “Asean has established a compelling demonstration of how corporate accountability measures can effectively contribute to transformative changes for sustainable development.”

Indonesia, as the Asean Chair for 2023, hosted the summit, which was co-organised by the Ministry of Cooperatives of SMEs in Indonesia, ESCAP, OECD, and Asean Secretariat, and supported by the World Benchmarking Alliance and Oxfam.

The summit welcomed government and private sector representatives from Asean and beyond, as well as investors and development organisations. The summit is an annual activity of the Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the sectoral body under the Asean Economic Community pillar responsible for coordinating MSME development in the region, contributing to the implementation of the Asean Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025. Incoming Asean chair Lao PDR announced that the Seventh Asean IB Summit will be organised in 2024.

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HAGENS BERMAN, NATIONAL TRIAL ATTORNEYS, Encourages Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) Investors with Substantial Losses to Contact Firm’s Attorneys, Firm Investigating Possible Securities Law Violations – Corporate Social Responsibility News Today – EIN Presswire

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VZ CLASS ACTION: Hagens Berman, National Trial Attorneys,


VZ CLASS ACTION: Hagens Berman, National Trial Attorneys, Encourages Verizon Communications (VZ) Investors with Substantial Losses to Contact Firm’s Attorneys, Lead Liability Securities Fraud Lawsuit Filed – Corporate Social Responsibility News Today – EIN Presswire

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