(NaturalNews) What is one of the most effective ways to stifle creativity and boost inefficiency? Have some government bureaucracy threaten anyone who dares to innovate.
That's what is happening to Canadian designer Andrew Gardner, who says he was only trying to raise a little money online so he could manufacture his creation - a magnetic pen. Within two days, Gardner had already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but in the process he attracted some undesired attention from the country's healthcare system, Health Canada.
As reported by CBC News:
Gardner's Kickstarter campaign for the Polar Pen had a goal of raising $14,000. As of noon Wednesday, it had raised more than $790,000.
Gardner, from Waterloo, isn't sure why his pen is so popular, but suspects it has to do with the YouTube video he made.
We're trying to protect 'the children'
"It had 30 hits one day and by the next day it had over a million hits, so it went viral somehow. That day we did very good and since then we've been exploding," Gardner told Craig Norris, host of CBC's The Morning Edition.
"We were initially hoping to make between maybe 500-2,000 units, and we're at well over 20,000 units," he said, adding that details about how pens that have been ordered will be manufactured are still being hashed out.
Only, Health Canada has now asked Gardner to provide more information about his creation, citing concerns about the size of the magnets it contains and the danger they could pose to small children, if they are swallowed. The request comes on the heels of a recall of small, powerful magnet sets like Buckyballs earlier this year by Health Canada. Buckyballs, by the way, are banned in our neighbor to the north.
"If the health agency decides Gardner's pen is a hazard, he won't be able to manufacture or sell it in Canada," CBC News reported.
In an email to the news service, a Health Canada official said the agency "is looking at the product to determine whether it poses the same danger as magnet sets that were recalled earlier this year."
According to reports, the Polar Pen contains round, hollow magnets that are created from the rare chemical element neodymium.
"Basically there's 12 or 13 individual magnets that all snap together into a cylindrical tube," said Gardner. "And then you put on these different metal, steel components that snap on to the metal."
The pen comes with an ink cartridge, yet it can also be used as a stylus with an additional magnet and rubber tip. In his YouTube videos, the pen's creator demonstrates how the pen can be transformed into a compass or used to make other toys like spinners.
"The pen cartridge actually acts as a bit of an axle so you can make these interesting forms," he said.
As for Health Canada, Gardner says the agency wants more information about the product and has told him that it's possible his pen could fall under the category of a magnetic toy.
"I guess just from the sheer exposure we had, people are looking at you through different eyes," he said.
'The funny thing is, you can buy these magnets in a hardware store'
Still, Gardner says the agency's interest appears to be a little hypocritical - if not intrusive.
"The funny thing is, is you can buy these magnets in any local hardware store. There are actually three retailers in Waterloo that retail magnets very similar, if not even smaller," said Gardner.
If the agency decides it will crack down on his creation, Gardner said, "That would be really unfortunate."
"I guess we'd have to find, potentially, manufacturing outside the country. We're obviously not going to do anything illegal here," he said.
Guess a pen made completely out of magnets isn't something Canada is ready for.
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