Referring to EU regulation, some people say that bendy bananas are one reason to vote “leave” in today’s Brexit vote.
Where are we going? To thoughts about regulation and markets.
EU Regulation Myths
The U.K. media have so delighted in exaggerating or misstating EU regulation that there is an EU website dedicated to debunking hundreds of these myths and a list of their topics that the Economist ranked.
You can see that food is at the top of the list:
In the “Euromyth A-Z Index,” Abattoirs and Acres are at the beginning and Zips and Zoos, the end. Their common thread is exaggeration.
For bananas, the truth is that EU nations do have to observe quality directives involving bruises, shape and smell. Malformed, bendy bananas are supposed to be destroyed but they are not banned.
Similarly, a myth circulated that curved cucumbers would be prohibited. Really though, the directive was grouping the cucumbers. Divided into Class 1, Extra Class and Class II, cucumbers in the first two categories “are allowed a bend of 10mm per 10cm of length while the third group “can bend twice as much.”
Taking readers to British agriculture, another myth proclaimed that “the EU is going to tell British farmers what to grow.” Actually, the directive was a three-crop rule that mandated crop diversification on farms with more than 30 hectares (74 acres).
Moving beyond exaggeration, some myths have been totally untrue like the 11-inch pizza requirement, a ban on corgis (the Queen’s dogs), and prohibiting bar patrons from referring to employees as “love.” (The last item involved harassment and did not apply to UK pubs.)
Our Bottom Line: Regulation or the Market
While EU myths reflect a distaste for regulation and a reminder of its cost, on the plus side we can say that government oversight makes our food, the environment and the workplace safer. So yes, cost and benefit relate to the Brexit vote.
However, returning to bendy bananas, I do wonder if we are really just talking about a preference for regulation or the market.