Free Market Or Call For Government Regulation

I’m a big believer in the market.  And by the market I mean that place or condition where people are allowed to trade their labor and property for another’s.

I’m a BIG believer in this.

Often times when discussing things politic with friends in person or friends on-line, I ask, or wonder, “Where might you be wrong?”  So, at times, I turn this around and ask myself the same question:

Where might I be wrong?

And I think that where I might be stretching ideology into fact is the level at which a government might reasonably impose regulations.

And even as I admit that I may be more wrong than in other areas, I stubbornly refuse to yield the point.  Funny that; silly human nature.

But here is where I’ve been nudged into thinking about this again.  For a long time I’ve thought how cool it would be to have and keep bees.  I think the education for the kids would be great, bees are awesome little critters, I used to have a hive in my biology class back in high school and let’s face it – honey is the perfect food.

So, over the years I’ve done some amount of casual reading and I’ve been kinda watching the story of Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD].  This is where whole hives up and die off with no apparent reason.  However, there are new studies that might shed light on the reason:

In the past months, three separate studies—two of them just out in the prestigious journal Science—have added to a substantial body of literature linking widespread use of neonicotinoids to CCD. The latest research will renew pressure on the EPA to reconsider its registration of Bayer’s products. The EPA green-lighted Bayer’s products based largely on a study funded by the chemical giant itself—which was later discredited by the EPA’s own scientists, as this leaked memo shows.

When seeds are treated with neonics, the pesticides get absorbed by the plant’s vascular system and then “expressed” in the pollen and nectar, where they attack the nervous systems of insects. Bayer targeted its treatments at the most prolific US crop—corn—and since the late 1990s, corn farmers have been blanketing millions of acres of farmland with neonic-treated seeds.

And it’s not just corn. In addition to the vast corn crop mentioned above, Bayer’s neonics have worked their way into substantial portions of the soy, wheat, cotton, sorghum, and peanut seed markets. In 2010, according to research by the Pesticide Action Network of North America, at least 142 million total acres were planted in neonic-treated seeds—a trend that will continue if not increase in  the 2012 growing season. That represents a landmass equal to the footprints of California and Washington State.

This makes more sense to me than power lines or cell towers.  The wide spread nature of CCD seems to be too wide for that explanation.  However, pesticides DO make sense and I’d be very happy if we have indeed found the cause.

However, now we have to determine the cure.  Almost assuredly the EPA will take steps to ban the use of neonics and that will be the end of it.  However, might there be a more free market approach?  Would there be mechanisms in the opn market that would incent farmers to use another form of pesticide?  Or to cause Bayer to begin researching a new product that doesn’t contain these neonics?  Or even to continue to use ’em but create the compound such that it doesn’t express itself in the pollen?

There is a time and a place for government and for governmental regulations.  We have to avoid the moral hazard displayed when a factory dumps chemicals in a river creating products that aren’t used by the people living downriver.  There have to be cases of protecting the rights of those impacted when they are unable to affect the outcome or behavior of the factory.


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