Focus Point - Gnats and Sledgehammers

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Today, taking a sledgehammer to a gnat, a story courtesy of Georgia Representative Jack Kingston.

To deal with the alleged problem of salmonella in eggs, the Clinton administration wants to require producers to pay for environmental testing at their egg farms -- looking for the presence of the Salmonella Bacteria in manure or anywhere else it could potentially be consumed by an egg-laying chicken. If bacteria were detected anywhere on the farm -- not just in eggs themselves -- all eggs from the farm would be diverted from the retail market. That could put plenty of small egg producers out of business, and it's unnecessary.

One egg in 20,000 eggs might cause illness -- and only then if it isn't properly cooked. No deaths were reported in 1999, and since 1996 incidences have been cut in half largely due to voluntary programs by egg producers.

But that's not good enough for society. Not when a sledgehammer's available to swat a gnat.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, R-rated business.