Hyperhygienist

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Hyperhygienist is a pejorative adjective applied to certain agricultural policies, laws, food regulations, wholesale food buying rules, and tax, tariff and trade measures by advocates of organic farming. It refers to an over-emphasis on a narrow definition of "safety" or "cleanliness" as defined only for the consumer, that effectively forces the use of pesticides, other chemicals, or even requires or encourages genetically modified organisms (since natural varieties often cannot stand up to the chemical load required to prevent all insects).

Those who use this adjective consider over-regulation to be as much or more of a problem than under-regulation of foodstuffs. They point to the long term deterioration of the environment caused by the artificial means which are the only way to meet the standards, or which drive family farms out of business in favor of larger scale agribusiness.

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently passed stringent standards for seafood and other food imports to the U.S., nominally to prevent tampering by terrorists. Critics have argued these regulations are hyperhygienist, doing too much to prevent deliberate threats to biosecurity, and not enough to prevent the many natural threats arising from the transport of foodstuffs across ecological borders. Defenders within the organic food movement sometimes respond that regulations that increase the expense of imported food always work to the benefit of more local food, and thus expensive storage and transport systems (or punitive tariffs levied to pay for them) will ultimately drive the entire export food industry out of business worldwide. This will create niches for local organic agriculture that could not compete directly without assistance.

See also: cult of safety, risk society



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