Think brussels sprouts and cauliflower are agricultural commodities? Think again.

October 19, 2010

While the financial bailouts tossed to automakers, banks and other groups during the recent economic crisis left a funny taste in the mouth of some Americans, one former U.S. regulator hopes efforts to prevent another panic doesn’t go rotten.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is immersed in drafting dozens of rules to assist it in increasing oversight of the once opaque over-the-counter derivatives market, widely blamed for exacerbating the recent financial crisis. USA/

Among the rules it must craft is what the definition of an agricultural commodity is? Of course, corn, cotton, soybeans and livestock, among other items, fall into this realm.

 But what about those “other foods” such as brussels sprouts, artichokes, cauliflower, or anything with curry? A former CFTC chairman says they are “abhorrent to American sensibilities” and should be banned.

“Like every U.S. citizen, there are certain agricultural commodities that are abhorrent to me,” said Philip McBride Johnson, who is now with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

 In a comment letter to his former agency, he said there is a “natural link” between defining an agricultural commodity and a provision in a law that requires the regulator to protect the public by forbidding the listing of certain products that “are abhorrent to American sensibilities.”

Clearly banned under this act are financial products based on wars, terrorism, and assassinations. If Johnson has his way, regulators will be able to protect consumers from a dozen foods that don’t mesh with his palate.

“I truly hope that the Commission does not waste this rare opportunity to rid the world of these dreadful excuses for agricultural commodities, and I appreciate this opportunity to contribute to the Public Good,” he said.

To view Mr. Johnson’s letter please go to: http://link.reuters.com/wez29p

Photo credit: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi (Farm workers harvest artichokes in California April 2008)

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