In many countries, governments are looking at loosening the regulations that govern business as a way of kick-starting the economy. It is argued that rules and regulations are stifling business, and with more freedom to operate, commercial enterprises will pull us out of our seemingly never-ending stagnation.
Economic liberalism, which many blame for the mess that Western economies currently find themselves in, is also seen as an economic savior. The other side of the coin is protectionism, and protectionism can take many forms.
Take a look at this example from the UK, where an egg producer has issued a warning to purchasers of duck eggs, suggesting that they fully inform themselves as to where their eggs are coming from.
The warning comes following a glut of duck eggs in the country and major fall in prices. Unlike chicken eggs, duck eggs are not subject to the same stringent regulation, so it could well be the case that these eggs have come from unreliable sources.
Protectionism or common sense?
You might argue that the warning is simply a case of a disgruntled producer worried about stiff competition from a more competitive producer. Questioning the quality of these new eggs on the market, could well put purchasers off, and protect the business of the producer raising the alarm.
But it is worth considering that in late 2010, Salmonella that could be traced back to duck eggs resulted in the hospitalization of 66 people in the UK who had consumed them. Eggs are a marvelous food source, but like any food, they need to be safe and healthy. Having proof of these qualities is far better than trusting to luck.
Ducks and duck eggs are not universally popular, but in some countries their consumption has a long history. We all know that we live in a global economy, that consumer tastes are changing and that diseases can spread very quickly. All good reasons why, particularly where food and health are concerned, regulations and traceability work for the good of all.
Nobody wants to make somebody else ill. And want to or not, it does not make good long-term business sense.
I know that regulation is not the most exciting topic in the world, and for anyone with an interest in duck farming, or who simply wants to see something other than the proverbial chicken crossing the road, the BBC has posted a video of a farmer in China helping his 5,000 ducks to cross a busy road to reach a pond. It’s worth watching – lecture over, have fun!