News broke recently that George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, might want to revise American drinking guidelines to match what is suggested in Canada. The guidelines put forward in Canada, in a report published by the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), state that those who do consume alcohol should consume no more than two drinks per week.
Yes, according to the researchers at the CCSA, anything more than two drinks weekly is a big problem.
As a Canadian, I can tell you that the Department of Agriculture should wholeheartedly ignore the proposed Canadian guidelines because those guidelines are nothing more than junk science. So much so that experts from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research called it “a pseudo-scientific amalgamation of selected studies of low scientific validity that fit their preconceived notions.” More recently, 16 prominent Canadian harm reduction experts, professors and researchers have stated that the CCSA’s report misleads consumers with statements like “even in small doses, alcohol has consequences for everyone.”
The guidelines put forward in Canada are nefariously put together by researchers with ties to the temperance organization Movendi. Movendi is an international temperance group that preaches a zero-consumption approach to alcohol. Movendi was founded in the 1800s under “The Order of Good Templars,” but rebranded itself in 2020.
Movendi is significant in the conversation about alcohol policy internationally because it partners with the World Health Organization and its affiliate researchers are the authors of the CCSA report that the Agriculture Department seems keen on implementing.
The authors of Canada’s guidelines on alcohol are openly affiliated with an international anti-alcohol organization whose primary goal is creating an alcohol-free future.
How do we know this? The authors of the CCSA report — Tim Stockwell, Timothy Naimi and Adam Sherk — have ties to Movendi. For example, two days after the CCSA report was published, an interactive summary of the report was published on Movendi’s website, authored by the same authors.
These researchers cite on their conflict-of-interest page that they are affiliated with Movendi International. And while their disclosure states that they are volunteer members with Movendi, according to the disclosures, they have traveled on Movendi’s dime to Movendi events in Sweden and are featured on the Movendi podcast dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol.
And just how strident are these anti-alcohol lobbyists and the organization they are tied to? According to Movendi’s website, its members take a pledge stating that they “are required to lead a life free from the use of alcohol and other intoxicating drugs.”
There is nothing wrong with abstaining from alcohol and other intoxicating drugs. To each their own. That said, there is something exceptionally nefarious about taking one’s personal view and masquerading it as scientific and, in turn, lobbying the government for policy change.
Imagine if the Canadian government commissioned a study on the appropriate level of meat consumption and it was discovered that the authors of the study, after coming to what is obviously a pre-drawn conclusion, are strident vegans affiliated with anti-meat organizations? Outrage would understandably follow, and the findings would be cast off as nothing more than ideologically driven pseudoscience. We certainly wouldn’t have the Agriculture Department hinting at mirroring such silly guidelines.
While Canada has many policies worth implementing in the United States, its alcohol guidelines are not one of them. The Agriculture Department should shelve Canada’s alcohol guidelines.