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Tuesday’s papers: Wolf-related hate speech, ineffective medicines, Farmers vs First Lady

The First Lady becomes embroiled in a war of words with farmers over the welfare of Finland's farm animals.

Susi lumisessa maisemassa.
Employees of the Natural Resources Institute Finland have been sharply criticised for how the wolf population is managed. Image: Martijn Smit / AOP

Many papers carry reports of hate speech directed at employees of Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), particularly in relation to how the institute is managing Finland’s wolf population.

Turku daily Turun Sanomat writes that Luke staff have been accused of lying, deliberately misrepresenting research results, relocating wolves, and "other conspiracies". The institute has even been referred to as a terrorist organisation, according to the paper.

Sami Niemi, Advisory Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tells TS that although hate speech directed against Luke employees is not a new phenomenon as such, it has been particularly accelerated by social media.

"There are also email campaigns, phone calls, crime reports and complaints to police," Niemi says. "One of the most repeated mantras is distrust of Luke. It seems like that almost goes without saying."

Oulu daily Kaleva, which also carries the story, reports that these incidents of hate speech occur offline as well as online. Luke representatives are often subjected to intimidation whilst carrying out their duties, such as having their cars followed, the paper reports.

Luke research professor Ilpo Kojola tells Kaleva that the current situation is "worrying" and is making the task of managing Finland’s wolf population more difficult. Kojola notes that individual employees are merely performing the duties assigned to them, usually by the ministry.

"The criticisms seem very harsh," Kojola tells Kaleva. "Especially when it gets personal."

The placebo effect?

As the flu season begins to kick in, tabloid Iltalehti takes a close look at the effects, non-effects and side-effects of many over-the-counter and prescription medicines available at Finnish pharmacies. IL also provides some tips and warnings on which medicines to choose - and which to stay away from - if you are feeling under the weather.

Vesa Mustalammi, Chief Medical Officer at Finnish Medicines Agency FIMEA, tells the tabloid that there are question marks over just how effective many over-the-counter medicines can be, but people are just in the habit of using them.

"The primary problem with many of these drugs is the lack of reliable, current scientific information: there is no definitive information on efficacy," Mustalammi says.

As an example, IL writes that many cough medicines are not recommended for the treatment of coughs, as they have been shown to be both ineffective and in some cases even potentially harmful.

So why, Iltalehti wants to know, do pharmacies continue to stock and sell medicines that have been shown to have no effect at all?

According to Mustalammi, the requirements to get a pharmaceutical product onto the shelves and sold over the counter in the past were not as stringent as they are today. However, many products are still popular even if they have little to no effect.

"Unless there are significant safety risks, it is difficult to return a drug previously approved for self-care to [the status of] a prescription drug," Mustalammi tells IL.

Farmer's beef with the First Lady

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports on the response by Finland’s meat industry to comments made by the President’s wife, Jenni Haukio, when she collected an award at an Animal Welfare Gala in Helsinki last Friday.

The tabloid details how Finland’s First Lady told the audience in her acceptance speech that over 70 million farm animals die every year in Finland, yet every one of them would have wanted to live.

However, meat producer Pasi Ingalsuo tells IL that he is amazed by Haukio's statement, as the welfare of farmed animals in Finland is given great attention and the production process is closely monitored.

"Animals only thrive with good care. We live from production, so animal welfare is our lifeline," Ingalsuo, a cattle breeder from Kokkola, tells the tabloid. "Everyone has the right to an opinion, but I would like to have factual views."

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