Monday, January 10, 2011

To bee or not to bee..

That is the question now being faced by American beekeepers. The answer to that question is largely in your hands.

To summarize an article I recently read in the Globe and Mail, China is the largest global exporter of honey. The standards for the production of this honey are, not surprisingly, lower than here in the US. Chinese beekeepers are allowed to use a type of antibiotic which has been shown to contaminate the honey itself. The antibiotic is banned from use in the US. Honey processors also take a turn, sometimes diluting the honey, sometimes using cheaper high fructose corn syrup to cut it but maintain sweetness. US authorities are aware of these practices and have imposed tariffs and import requirements on Chinese honey. Since then imports from other Asian countries have surged at unprecedented rates. This indicates that through methods of varying legality Chinese honey is in effect being laundered and then re-exported to the US under the label of a different nation to circumvent the tariff.

I highly encourage you to read the whole text here:

This article shows the limitations of tariffs for regulating trade. In many cases, tariffs are desirable. They are a tool that can help to protect US industry from foreign firms that receive subsidies designed to bankrupt rivals or that aren't legally held to the same standards of quality and safety as companies in the US. The bottom line truth is that this inferior honey is being sold to us because there is a demand. Regardless of whatever -isms govern the US and China, the fact remains that where there is strong enough demand, a market will emerge whether it is wanted or not. That is the simultaneous beauty and horror of the free market- it is very effective and efficient at providing goods and services to those who want them the most. If you have the money you will get what you wish for, so be be careful as the saying advises. In this case the American consumer is asking for a jar of yellow sticky stuff labeled honey, the cheaper the better, regardless of the implications of what is (or isn't) on the label.

Ignorance is part of the problem - if customers don't know a product is tainted or that important corners are being cut to make it, they can't change their behavior. One goal of my blog is to promote awareness of issues just like this so people can make better informed choices. You can help by telling your family and friends. You can also help spread awareness by sharing my blog, so consider linking to this article through your facebook. Its easy, just click on the facebook icon below.

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