Bookmark and Share

 



Eyes on Trade

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch blog on globalization and trade

 

What's New - Global Trade Watch


View 'What's New' Archives


Public Citizen | REACH for Consumer Safety - REACH for Consumer Safety

REACH for Consumer Safety

European and U.S. consumers face the same dilemma concerning the number of harmful chemicals they are exposed to at home, in the garden and at the office. Current laws on both sides of the Atlantic focus on ensuring the safety of new chemicals before they are placed on the market, but fail to regulate the tens of thousands of older chemicals that have been on the market for decades. Little data is publicly available about the potential hazards posed by these older chemicals, which constitute the vast majority of those in the stream of commerce.

In response to this frightening lack of information, the European Union (EU) has proposed a cutting-edge chemical safety policy called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals). The goal of REACH is to test and regulate 30,000 chemicals, old and new, produced in excess of one metric ton (a portion of the estimated 100,000 chemicals on the U.S. and European markets). Consumer, environmental and public health groups on both sides of the Atlantic have applauded REACH as a long-overdue chemical safety measure. Unfortunately, the Bush Adminstration’s response to the policy has been to aggressively attack the policy as a "barrier to trade."

The U.S. Commerce and State Departments teamed up with the chemical industry to launch an aggressive transatlantic lobbying campaign aimed at gutting REACH. Industry claims that the required toxicity testing is too costly and burdensome. U.S. trade officials claim the policy is an illegal "barrier to trade" impeding the free flow of chemicals across borders, and that this transatlantic dispute will "dwarf" the dispute over genetically modified foods. In fact, even before the legislation was finalized, the U.S. had filed papers complaining about the policy at the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, despite this opposition, REACH is set to take effect in June 2007.

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.