June 23, 2015
The process of lawmaking is often compared to sausage making: an unpalatable job that produces a palatable result. It’s easy to agree with the first part of that analogy, but in politics, the result isn’t always pleasant.
Today, U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to “suspend the rules” and pass its version of reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This cursory approach is another example of the suspension of reason that has plagued the entire TSCA debate, the result of which remains ambiguous at best.
May 20, 2015
The Obama administration has finally released its National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators. It’s the federal government’s answer to all the hype found in the news related to the health on the nation’s honeybee hives. While it’s not clear what it will achieve for the bees, we can be sure it comes with lots of pork-barrel spending, government handouts, and shortsighted pesticide polices that undermine food production.
May 13, 2015
Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research is holding a hearing on “pollinator health” to discuss a national strategy designed to improve honeybee health. Hopefully, U.S. regulators and legislators will not move too quickly on a strategy that is governed by alarmism; rather, they should take a deliberative approach that is based on science and good information. They should avoid the rash approach taken by European policy makers, which is increasingly proving unwarranted and counterproductive.
The issue erupted in Europe a few years ago, and European lawmakers jumped the gun by deciding to ban a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids that environmental activists ...
May 7, 2015
I’ve seen many crazy headlines about the challenges facing honeybees, but this one takes the cake:
So now, not only are humans “killing off” bees, we are “enslaving” them! According to this article, “industrial agriculture” is the problem and technological approaches won’t help things. However, the authors don’t offer much of any solution other than: “Until local agriculture replaces global agriculture, there will always be another parasite, another virus, another mysterious collapse.”
Although they don’t define “local...
April 24, 2015
Yesterday, Dr. Mehmet Oz launched his “counter attack” on several doctors who sent a letter last week to the dean of Columbia University’s medical department complaining about controversial positions and advice that Oz has offered on his show. Oz, who holds faculty and administrative positions at Columbia, exclaimed that he “will not be silenced” by his critics, casting the issue as an attack on his freedom of speech. In an article for Time magazine, Oz stated:
The dean politely reinforced that the academic tradition of all institutions protects freedom of speech for their faculty, and I assumed the matter was over…. I know I have irritated some potential allies. No matter our disagreements, freedom of...
April 17, 2015
For a long time, TV personally and Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz has gotten little criticism for his sensationalist and often junk science-laden advice. Finally, members of Congress from both parties called him to the table—asking him to appear at congressional hearings related to fraudulent claims about dietary supplements and other products. A largely unapologetic Oz said ,“I actually do personally believe in the items I talk about on the show. … I recognize they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact but nevertheless I would give my audience the advice...
April 13, 2015
In my recently released paper, I point out many misconceptions circulating regarding recent challenges to honeybee hive health. Today, I came across another example of the confusion about this issue in a letter to the editor in a Canadian newspaper. The title says it all: “Honeybees Headed for Extinction.” I agree with the author’s conclusion that planting certain flowers around farms to give the bees a more diverse diet is a good idea—and I do that myself. However, honeybees are not going extinct. Consider a few points I make in my paper...
April 8, 2015
Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute published my paper on the honeybee health issue and pesticide use. We have had several media outlets ask, why is CEI focused on the honeybee issue now? If you read this blog, you know that I have been writing about pesticides and their impact on public health and well-being for at least a decade and a half.
CEI selects issues based on our goals to promote freedom and prosperity, using the market to advance public health and well-being. I focus on chemicals, which I believe are under appreciated and misunderstood market-generated technologies that advance human well-being. My work on pesticides has focused on allowing strategic uses to ...
April 1, 2015
At recent hearings on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), senators, environmental activists, and local government officials claimed that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) law is not sufficient protect public health. As I have argued before, that’s certainly not the case.
There may be an economic reason to reform this law—to preempt a growing patchwork of nonsensical state-level consumer product regulations—but there’s no legitimate “safety” reason for reform.
Still, activists and some members of Congress at the hearing complained that TSCA’s risk standard has prevented the EPA from banning “a known human carcinogen,” i...
March 26, 2015
Dan Nosowitz in Modern Farmer offers some insights on the recent class action lawsuit filed against California winemakers. The plaintiffs found that some inexpensive wines contained arsenic at levels exceeding the federal drinking water standard for this substance. Nosowitz rightly points out that the standard is for water, not wine and “people don’t, or shouldn’t, drink as much wine as water.”
Well, let’s not go that far… kidding of course! Moderation is surely a good idea when it comes to alcohol consumption. Yet even if you drank as much wine as you do water, there’s still no reason to be alarmed about arsenic. The levels in wine are...