Not What but How Much

Some consumer advocate groups are creating a lot of anxiety in consumers and lobbying for excessive laws based on flawed science. There is a common misconception that we need to be protected from all toxic substances to be free from disease and birth defects, but this is simply not true. It’s not about any exposure to toxic substances but how much.

It makes me think of selenium with my livestock. Selenium is an essential mineral for almost all living things. In my part of the country it is deficient in the soil, and my animals don’t always get enough from the vegetation they eat. So when I am planning on breeding my goats I need to give them shots of selenium to produce healthy kids (baby goats, that is). In other parts of the country where there is an abundance of it, animals can get sick from eating certain plants—like loco weed—that are very high in selenium.

You may remember the sad story of 21 polo ponies dying before a match last year. It was later discovered that the vitamin compound they received earlier had been formulated with too much selenium, a substance that is necessary in small quantities but is fatal in large quantities.

The same is true with most substances, not harmful or even necessary in small doses, likely fatal in large doses. Even pure clean water becomes toxic when consumed in large enough quantities.

So if laws are going to be enacted to protect consumers from toxic substances, those laws need to be based on sound science. Laws would need to be specific about quantities of substances or the unintended consequence will be the banning therapeutic ingredients used in proper doses.

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