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.

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
Letter to EPA on industry efforts to stall IRIS toxicological assessment through non-germane comments

Letter to EPA on "filter failure," resulting from industry efforts to stall IRIS toxicological assessment through non-germane comments

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 1, 2012)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Letter to EPA Nominating BPA for Fourth Contaminant Candidate List

Letter to EPA Nominating Bisphenol A (BPA) for Fourth Contaminant Candidate List, based on its known adverse health effects

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 22, 2012)
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Author(s): Noah Sachs, Amy Sinden
Letter to EPA re nominees to new advisory committee on IRIS

CPR letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding candidates for scientific advisory committee of Integrated Risk Information System profiles, with particular attention to candidates' conflicts of interest

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 15, 2012)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Joint Letter to Food Safety Inspection Service on Poultry Slaughter Inspection. Joint letter from safety advocates, including Rena Steinzor, April 20, 2012.

Joint letter from safety advocates to the Food Safety Inspection Service on Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 20, 2012)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Comments to FDA on BPA

CPR Comments on the American Chemistry Council's Petition to Remove Approval for Polycarbonate Resins in Infant Feeding Bottles and Certain Spill-Proof Cups Due to the Abandonment of these Uses

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 17, 2012)
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Author(s): Noah Sachs, Aimee Simpson
Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research

What do we know about the possible poisons that industrial technologies leave in our air and water? How reliable is the science that federal regulators and legislators use to protect the public from dangerous products? Drawing together a host of little-known but dramatic cases, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy Wagner, comprehensively documents what has been suspected for years: how extensively scientific data are misused and abused in regulatory and tort law. Sound science is critical to the public policy process, particularly where health and safety issues are concerned. But as Professors McGarity and Wagner show, many interest groups do all they can to influence and undermine independent and honest research, in an effort to bend science to their ideological will.

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Author(s): Wendy Wagner, Thomas McGarity

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