Thursday, October 18, 2007
More Resources needed for CPSC, FDA
Washington, DC—Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, today called on Congress and the Administration to strengthen the agencies responsible for product and food safety and to ensure U.S. trade policy adequately addresses the safety demands of a global marketplace in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.
“In recent years, while imports have ballooned, regulatory capacity has shrunk. Our regulatory capacity must be overhauled to meet the import challenge,” testified Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union. “In addition, our trade policy must be more holistic, and trade agreements must be designed with protection of food and product safety in mind,” added Halloran.
In recent years, imports have skyrocketed. The value of all imports increased by 67 percent between 2000 and 2006, and today 80 percent of all toys sold in the United States are imported from China. Of all the food we consume, 13 percent is imported, and 83 percent of the seafood is imported.
CU recommends the following: 1) Increasing inspections at our borders and in overseas plants 2) Requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to establish and oversee a system of independent third party certification to ensure imports meet U.S. safety standards 3) Giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FDA authority to recall contaminated food.
“U.S. trade policy has proceeded with blinders on towards just one goal—that of gaining U.S. companies access to markets in other countries—with little consideration to the impact on the domestic economy or marketplace,” said Halloran. “Safety standards are typically viewed as potential barriers to U.S. exports, rather than measures that guarantee the quality of imports and assure a level playing field for domestic and foreign producers.”
CU’s testimony also makes additional trade-related recommendations, including calling on Congress to broaden trade advisory committees to include representatives from consumer, environment, and labor groups; and urging policymakers to address counterfeiting of safety-related labeling.
As part of Consumers Union’s ongoing effort to educate consumers and legislators on unsafe products and food, CU launched www.NotInMyCart.org. Among its many features, the website offers policy updates and tips from Consumer Reports magazine on how consumers can keep their homes safe.
For a copy of the testimony, see http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/campaignnotinmycart/004988.html .
Jennifer Fuson, 202-462-6262
Naomi Starkman 917-539-3924