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Government goober gaffe grounded

Congressman Bobby Bright of Alabama said it best, noting that it was a "solution in search of a non-existent problem." He was speaking about the U.S. Department of Transportation's proposed ban on peanut distribution on commercial airline flights.

With terrorist threats, overbooked flights, price gouging, and the myriad of other problems facing the air travel industry today, this is what is on the minds of our transportation officials - whether or not the government should ban the distribution of tiny bags of peanuts on airplanes. When the news of the proposed ban first became public, the outrage was immediate and justifed, with elected officials and industry and commodity groups jumping to the defense of peanuts. If you're a peanut producer, rest assured that your check-off dollars are being well-spent, and that your grower organization is watching your back.

In the type of backpedaling we've come to expect from our public officials, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood eventually announced that the DOT will not implement any changes that would result in a peanut ban on commercial flights until a peer-reviewed study is conducted and Congress has 90 days to review such a study. The study was mandated by law in 1999, the last time such a peanut ban was seriously considered.

No one is denying the existence of peanut or other food allergies, but such a ban would be overreaching and reactionary. In fact, a recent research review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that many Americans who think they have food allergies are misdiagnosed. Researchers from Stanford University examined 72 studies of food allergies and found that although there is much interest in food allergies, there is no clear consensus on the most effective diagnostic approaches. They also said there is no conclusive evidence to show that the prevalence of food allergies is increasing, and that such allergies likely affect more than 1 to 2 percent of the population but less than 10 percent.

This proposal, like many bad policies, is likely to resurface at some point in the future. You can submit your public comment on the proposed peanut ban by clicking here.

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