Consumer Protection

Is our food safe? What about the drugs we take? The cars we drive and the products we buy? Are the banks, credit card companies and lenders dealing fairly with us? In each case, federal agencies are charged with making sure the answer is “yes.” But examples of unsafe products and unfair practices abound in the marketplace.

For years, General Motors hid from regulators evidence that an ignition switch the company used in its Cobalts, Opels, Pontiacs, and Saturns had such a hair trigger that a light brush by the driver’s hand or knee would shut down the engine, disabling air bags and power steering. The resulting loss of control caused at least 13 fatal accidents. GM's ability to avoid detection for so many years says as much about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's weak enforcement record as anything.

Other examples abound. From tainted peanut butter to toxic drywall, to lead-laden imported toys, such instances of unsafe food, drugs, automobiles and products are all too dangerous evidence of a failed system of regulation and enforcement. Often the failure is the result of neglect – a lack of political will to spend the money required to conduct meaningful research and enforcement. Sometimes the cause is ideological: a conviction that safeguards interfere unduly with industry profits. Either way, the result is that industry is spared the costs of being accountable for unsafe production practices, shifting those costs instead to consumers in the form of injuries, illness and worse.

Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say about it in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Comments to the FDA on food safety rules for raw produc

Comments to the FDA on food safety rules for raw produce on several CPR Member Scholars and staff

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 15, 2013)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Michael Patoka
Comments to the FDA on preventive controls for human food production

Comments from several CPR Members Scholars and staff to the FDA on preventive controls for human food production, November 15, 2013

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 15, 2013)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Michael Patoka
No mere patch protects nature

No mere patch protects nature, op-ed by Victor Flatt and Catherine Phillips

Type: Op-Eds (Oct. 9, 2013)
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Author(s): Victor Flatt
TSCA Reform: Preserving Tort and Regulatory Approaches

Issue Alert: TSCA Reform: Preserving Tort and Regulatory Approaches, by CPR Member Scholars Emily Hammond,Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, and Wendy Wagner, and CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin, CPR Issue Alert 1309, October 2013.

Type: Reports (Oct. 1, 2013)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner, Sidney Shapiro, Thomas McGarity, James Goodwin
Thomas McGarity's testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act's preemption provisions.

Thomas McGarity's July 31, 2013, testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee about the Chemical Safety Improvement Act's preemption provisions.

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 31, 2013)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity
Reforming TSCA Progressive Principles for Toxic Risk Regulation

Despite 40 years of regulatory effort, chemical regulation in the United States has been a dismal failure, and our current law – the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – deserves much of the blame for this regulatory dysfunction. When Congress enacted TSCA, the final legislation reflected a deal under which chemicals then on the market were “grandfathered” in, while new chemicals would be subject to a quick review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But experience shows that a vast majority of those reviews are based on inadequate data.

Type: Reports (July 8, 2013)
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Author(s): Noah Sachs, Matt Shudtz
Toxic chemicals bill trumps state rights

Writing in The Hill, Rena Steinzor discusses the problems with the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, sponsored by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg and his colleague Sen. David Vitter.

Type: Op-Eds (June 26, 2013)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Letter to OIRA re USDA proposal to 'modernize' the poultry inspection system
Type: Letters to Agencies (April 9, 2013)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Michael Patoka
Sweeping Corporate Immunity for the Fuel Industry: The Next Front in the 'Corporate Accountability' Wars
Type: Reports (March 27, 2013)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Nicholas Vidargas

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