Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Cow Tax and Beano

Here is the latest from the EPA. They have issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on whether they should regulate greenhouse gas emissions (methane and CO2 among others). Up to now, they have been restricted to what we normally consider pollutants: toxic chemicals, particulate matter and even toxic dust and dirt from open pit mines. Essentially they have been regulating mechanical things, but their ability to regulate products naturally produced by animals and even humans, opens new doors to our faceless, non-elected bureaucrats. Would bureaucracies like the EPA want to enlarge their jurisdiction three or fourfold? You betcha! It is causing a major stir in the cattle industry which sees the potential costs of a cap and trade “cow tax” at $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 per beef cow. Flatulence of cattle has been a subject of both concern and amusement. Government funded studies are often treated with derision and conjure up mental pictures of methane sensors placed at the exhaust end of a cow, with PhD types copying the sensor data to their notebooks. In reality the multi-stomach, cud chewing cows emit most of their GHGs from the front end, not the rear. But it is a significant problem nevertheless, with cattle contributing 15 to 20% of atmospheric methane discharges worldwide. And methane is a far more potent GHG, 24 times that of CO2. Which brings me to Beano. I consider Beano to be one of the top 25 inventions of the 20th century, right alongside of television, nuclear fission, radar and the Veg-O-Matic. And it works. The active ingredient, the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, affects digestion by prematurely breaking down certain legume sugars before they reach the large intestine where they would normally ferment and produce gas. Knowing that, about two years ago I decided I would save the planet. I went to Beano’s website where I found a “contact us” box. Had more to do with customers’ problems with Beano, but I asked my missive be forwarded to the appropriate department. In it, I pointed out the problem with bovine flatulence, that perhaps Beano could provide a breakthrough solution, that Beano could be sold by the ton around the world rather than in little bottles, and that they (GlaxoSmithKline) might make a gazillion dollars. But I waited and waited for a response. Finally after three weeks, my answer came. They informed me that they did not make Beano for veterinary use and because of that, my request was denied. So much for thinking outside the box (or bottle) at GlaxoSmithKline.

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