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Bush administration, ACC battle EU cosmetic safety laws

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Not content to pander to the cosmetics industry by requiring no safety testing on American personal care products, the Bush administration is now working to thwart Europe’s attempts at improving product safety. Government correspondence uncovered by staff of the House Committee on Government Reform shows that the administration mixed with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) for a lobbying campaign to cripple Europe’s new laws, the Oakland Tribune reports.

This is a lot of effort for a relatively toothless policy, showing once again how little interest the Bush administration and the ACC have in protecting human health if it means the slightest expense to industry.

The chemicals Europe’s new laws regulate don’t show up in very many products, so banning them won’t have much practical effect. Also, Europe’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) policy doesn’t require that manufacturers of the most hazardous types of chemicals – those that have been linked to cancer, are bioaccumulative or cause reproductive or developmental problems – stop producing these toxics. They just have to prove that no alternative exists before they can sell them, and then show that they’ve reduced harm by “all technical means.”

Still, REACH attempts to set at least some safety guidelines, and it allows regulators to ban whole classes of chemicals at once. That’s more than can be said for the U.S. FDA, which allows a self-regulated, industry-sponsored panel to set its own safety standards and do its own testing.

The Environmental Working Group petitioned FDA last June to set up its own independent advisory panel to regulate product safety, and to enforce provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that require products with untested ingredients to bear a consumer label to that effect.

For more information, please visit EWG’s Skin Deep report.


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