Friday, April 3, 2009

CPSIA - "Joe Consumer" and Consumers Union

"Joe Consumer" strikes again, this time spreading misinformation by quoting a misleading Consumers Report Blog about the CPSIA Rally. Joe posted a comment on my blogpost below about, the misleading blog he "authors" on behalf of The Center for Justice and Democracy, and directed readers to his blog on the Rally. Joe presumably knows he is spreading misinformation, as the 12 comments on the CR Blog make clear the many issues that post. I hardly know what to say - this is Justice and Democracy? Not in my book.

Consumers Union was honorable enough to post my comment, along with 11 others similarly critical of their work. To blunt Joe Consumer's nonsense campaign, I reproduce here the actual CR Blogpost and my reply.


April 02, 2009

Businesses rally against CPSIA

We’ve reported many times on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a vital new law that helps ensure the safety of children’s products and revitalizes the beleaguered Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Act was signed into law last August by then-President George W. Bush after receiving overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. It was created in response to the millions of toys, cribs, and other children’s products recalled for dangerous design flaws or dangerous levels of lead that injured and even killed children. But this week, more than seven months after the bill’s signing, some members of the business community staged a rally to ask that the CPSIA be amended.

Many who participated in Wednesday’s rally in Washington D.C. were industry lobbyists and representatives of large companies and of trade organizations that protested the effect of the bill on their businesses. Some who spoke at today’s rally, including Toy Industry Association President Carter Keithley, claimed that there are no health impacts from lead in toys. Others who spoke suggested that adult clothing was covered by the law, which is not the case. The lead testing restrictions apply only to children’s products. Further, some of the members of Congress who criticized the CPSIA voted in favor of the bill last summer.

The takeaway: The implementation of this law, which changes the way companies do business and makes a broad category of children’s products safer, has not been handled well. Congress expressly provided the CPSC, the agency charged with making the law work, the authority to address legitimate questions about its application. Unfortunately, the CPSC has been slow, if not downright reluctant, to provide timely exemptions or give clear guidance about the law’s actual requirements.

Folks with legitimate questions about the new law can and should certainly speak their minds, but it’s not okay when industry challenges the effects of lead on children’s health. It is absurd and flies in the face of good science. The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly said there is no safe level of lead. That lead-tainted products crept their way back into the marketplace—even though lead paint was banned 30 years ago—is a clear indication that former laws and the agency that enforces them weren’t strong enough. It’s also disappointing that organizations such as TIA and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which formerly embraced the new law, are now calling for widespread changes.

One point of agreement did surface today. Apparently, NAM agrees with consumer groups that the current leadership at the CPSC is responsible for the problems regarding the failure to issue timely guidelines or appropriate exemptions based on sound science. This is a major problem. Nancy Nord has held the position of Acting Chair since June 2006, after the resignation of Hal Stratton. The agency desperately needs new, more effective leadership at the helm—someone who will put consumer safety first, while also guiding the industry in its compliance efforts.

My comment on the CR Blogpost:

The Rally against the CPSIA on April 1 in Washington was no April Fool's joke. Efforts to marginalize the clear message of the Rally will not work. The CPSIA is misguided and misconceived in its precautionary "guilty until proven innocent" design. The ill-effects on industry and the children's products market cannot be jusified with vague assertions that the law solves some sort of public health emergency. The "emergency" does not exist.

Please note that you have made some serious mischaracterizations and factual errors in this "fact-checked" blog. First of all, you claim that the speakers were "industry lobbyists and representatives of large companies and of trade organizations". In fact, of the 20 Rally speakers (other than legislators), there were three speakers from trade organizations, namely the Presidents of the TIA, AAFA and NAM, and NO lobbyists. Every other speaker but one (the representative of Reckitt Benckiser) was from a small business or an individual. In other words, the Rally featured speakers from 16 small businesses or individuals, one large business, three representatives of industry organizations and no lobbyists. Your statement is misleading and untrue.

Second, you indicate that a "takeaway" of the meeting was that the problem was poor implementation of the CPSIA. In fact, that must be your opinion, but not the stated opinion of the speakers at the Rally. The message was clear and consistent among the Rally speakers that the problem is the law itself. Implementation was not the focus of these remarks. We were not pointing fingers at the CPSC either - but you are. In describing the Rally and then characterizing your opinion as the "takeaway", you suggest that we hold that view - which we do not.

Third, you mischaracterize the message of the scientists who appeared at the Rally, Dr. Barbara Beck, Dr. Rick Reiss and Dr. William Waddell. Each of these toxicologists reinforced the common wisdom quoted by Dr. Waddell: "The dose makes the poison." Dr. Beck clearly stated that we ingest more lead daily in our food than is likely ingested from use of many regulated children's products. You are welcome to review their remarks at our website Again, you state your opinion as though it were a fact. This is misleading to your readers who trust your fact-checked blog for accuracy.

There are other, more minor errors or mischaracterizations, such as your assertion that some speaker claimed that the CPSIA applied to adult clothing (the President of the AAFA was the only speaker from the apparel industry and made no such claim), and your assertion that the 2007/8 recalls "injured and even killed children" (an analysis of recalls in this period from lead in children's products showed one death from swallowing a lead bangle on a bracelet, and one reported injury from lead-in-paint).

Finally, you also mischaracterize the remarks of the Rally speakers as endorsing YOUR view that Nancy Nord is at fault for the delays and failures to issue exemptions that you assert. I do not recall Ms. Nord's name or role being mentioned during any speech, and she was certainly not a focus of the day's events. Speaking for myself, I do not agree with your statement at all, and would observe that the data shows that Acting Chairman Nord and Comm. Moore have voted 2-0 in their last 23 decisions. It is hard to understand the reasons behind the finger pointing at Ms. Nord or at Republicans in general if the Commissioners are apparently acting in bipartisan unison. Is it because attacks on Ms. Nord make a nice diversion from an examination of the law itself?


kathleen said...

PopTort is a troll. Some creatures -like trolls- are so ugly they should have been clubbed to death at birth. We should starve this one. Don't feed the troll. He's posting on our blogs because he can't even get his friends to visit his. If it weren't for us, he'd have no traffic at all. That's why we should stop feeding him with attention. That will hurt him worse than anything. Expending energy to refute him implies he's more important than he is. He won't even use his real name. Such a coward!

Leslee said...

I commented on the Consumer Reports blog earlier today, but my comment has not been posted yet. I posted it on my own blog here. I was glad to see that they have allowed many other critical comments to be posted.

Michael said...

The no safe level of lead stuff is false on its face, since lead appears naturally in our diet.

(As do plenty of other supposedly nasty things like formaldehyde)

CR is really hurting itself by letting these fools run with their "consumer protection" aspect.