Federal deregulation is a path to disaster (II)

“Decades of corporate government deregulation and reduced funding of important government departments has the country well along the path to a lawless society.”
Steven Magee

James Carville is reputed to have said, “Businessmen want fewer regulations for the same reason criminals want fewer police; it’s easier to get away with murder!” One must hope that Mr. Carville was speaking metaphorically, but any number of our industrial products and by-products now jeopardize our health and, very possibly, our continued tenure as the dominant species on Earth. 

Decades of reliance on insecticides have increased food production, but at what cost? In the seventies we were talking about the thinning of eggshells for birds in the wild. Today, we are losing bees, our principal pollinators, at an alarming rate. In January 2017, bumblebees have been placed on the endangered species list. The risks to the food supply cannot be overstated if we lose the bees, or even if climate change alters the delicate timing of blooms and the awakening of the insects that feed on their pollen.

Nor can we be certain of the health consequences on human beings of chronic exposure to these powerful toxins that kill insects by disrupting their nervous systems.  Joni Mitchell said it best decades ago, “Give me spots on my apples; but, leave me the birds and the bees, now!” We really will not understand what we have until its gone. But, cheer up, chemical companies will have made a fortune in the process! 

The opening line of a study from the National Institute of Health [NIH] study Epidemiologic Evidence on the Health Effects of Perflourooctanic Acid should do little to calm your jitters.  “Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) does not occur naturally but is present in the serum of most residents of industrialized countries.” Our exposure rates are very low and PFOA does not qualify as an acute toxin. However, our exposure qualifies as chronic since so many cook with Teflon-coated pans. The study continues, “It does not break down in nature and has a half-life of three years in the human body PFOA is not directly genotoxic; animal data indicate that it can cause several types of tumors and neonatal death and may have toxic effects on the immune, liver, and endocrine systems. Data on the human health effects of PFOA are sparse.”

There is much we do not know, with certainty, about this product, but corporate America is reaping a fortune on a decidedly unnatural molecule that most citizens are carrying in their bloodstream. Regulation may have failed us, here, but some might argue that more regulations, not fewer, should be in place. 

Those ubiquitous plastic bottles and containers from which we imbibe the universal solvent – water – and ingest micro-waved foodstuffs are another potential health hazard. Bisphenol-A (BPA), another chemical brought to you by the chemical industry, is used in the production of those containers. Much more is known about the health consequences of this little beastie, consider the insert, below, from the NIH

“Why are people concerned about BPA?

One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.”

Again, dear reader, does this suggest to you that industrialists are in need of fewer regulations, or more? 

More recently, Gary Taubes has published his new work The Case Against Sugar in which he recounts the history of refined sugar and its evolution toward dietary staple, and the possible links to the so-called ‘diseases of civilization‘.  His arguments are compelling, but inconclusive, since we are unable to subject human beings to experimentation that controls for all variables. However, Big Sugar has spent millions on lobbying over decades to increase its market-share of calories consumed while simultaneously sponsoring less-than-rigorous research with the express goal of attributing those diseases to other macro-nutrients. 

It has been said that the most dangerous place on Earth is the spot between Capitalists and their Profit. Certainly, a few obsolete regulations may still be on the books; however, the public should not be duped by businessmen into believing that regulations are placing a chokehold on the ability of business enterprises to turn a profit. As Linda C. Brinson said in “10 Unforeseen Effects of Deregulation”, “Deregulation doesn’t always work as expected. Some economists believe that deregulation usually leads to someone being hurt. It’s just not easy to predict whom.”  Or, even to what degree they might be harmed…


 
 
 

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