Richard North, 15/08/2015  

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Sarah Knapton - "science editor" for the Barclay Beano - is doing it again, with another crass article on EU regulation.

We met Knapton recently when she tried to convince us that British organic farmers were "being forced to treat their livestock with homeopathic remedies under new European Commission rules branded 'scientifically illiterate' by vets" – only then to amend the story as the claim turned out to be completely false.

Now, having learned nothing from the experiences, she would have us believe that Fairy Liquid "will have to carry a warning sign after the European Union branded it corrosive". From August, la Knapton tells us, "Fairy, along with a whole range of household products, must carry a special chemical test-tube sign, depicting acid burning a hand, to warn consumers of the danger".

Presumably the stupid woman picked this up from the Mail in a classic example of media coprophagia, although that paper has had to downgrade its story to claiming that the product must be labelled as an "irritant", specifically an "eye irritant".

The Express also found space for the original report – although even this tawdry excuse for a newspaper has had second thoughts and has deleted its story completely. 

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Knapton, though, has got herself completely mixed up, confusing the Biocide Regulation with the chemical the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation, then falling for the misinformation that household detergents have to bear a "corrosive" pictogram - which they don't.

Under the new regulations, which come fully into force on 1 June 2017, such products will have to bear a label comprising a black exclamation mark on a white background, set in a red diamond – as per this illustration, with the description "eye irritant" – which indeed it is.

The ultimate irony, though, is that the new regulations are not even of EU origin. As the recitals (5 & 6) say:
With a view to facilitating worldwide trade while protecting human health and the environment, harmonised criteria for classification and labelling have been carefully developed over a period of 12 years within the United Nations (UN) structure, resulting in the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (hereinafter referred to as 'the GHS').

This Regulation follows various declarations whereby the Community confirmed its intention to contribute to the global harmonisation of criteria for classification and labelling, not only at UN level, but also through the incorporation of the internationally agreed GHS criteria into Community law.
However, the Telegraph site has attracted over 400 comments, mostly a parade of the gullible, only too keen to imbibe what they read as the gospel truth.

Oddly enough, I was originally rather dismissive of this example of global governance when I first reported on it but, on reflection, came to consider it as a good example trade regulation. No longer can differing warning labels be used as trade barriers, as we now have a globally harmonised system of pictograms.

Such subtlety, though, is way beyond the competence of the legacy media, which goes for the cheap "EU red tape" story as a substitute for delivering real news. The saddest thing, though, is not that the legacy media should produce such garbage – we are used to that – but that there should be so many people still prepared to believe it.

And the great danger, of course, is that these same people believe the legacy media is able to keep them informed on the EU referendum campaign.

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