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.

CPR's comments on USDA FY 2017 appropriations

CPR's comments on USDA FY 2017 appropriations

Type: Legislative Testimony (March 15, 2016)
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Author(s): Matt Shudtz
Food Safety’s Criminal State of Mind

Writing for Food Safety News, Rena Steinzor describes an effort by corporate heavyweights to scuttle the "responsible corporate officer" doctrine established by the Supreme Court, which seeks to hold to hold executives accountable for harm done by dangerous food or products, if the executives failed to take sufficient care to ensure safety.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 6, 2016)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Delving into GM's Crimes

Delving into GM's Crimes, op-ed by Rena Steinzor and Rob Weissman

Type: Op-Eds (Oct. 6, 2015)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
VW and GM scandals show why regulation matters

VW and GM scandals show why regulation matters, op-ed by Rena Steinzor and Rob Verchcik

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 30, 2015)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Robert Verchick
Verchick And Goodwin Letter to Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management re OIRA

Letter from Robert Verchick and James Goodwin to Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management re the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 15, 2015)
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Author(s): Robert Verchick, James Goodwin
Toxic ignorance and the challenge for Congress

Toxic ignorance and the challenge for Congress, op-ed by Noah Sachs and Matthew Shudtz

Type: Op-Eds (June 26, 2015)
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Author(s): Noah Sachs, Matt Shudtz
Toxic Chemical Control Is ‘High Priority’ Failure for Nation’s Government

Writing for Huffington Post: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reiterated its conclusion that EPA’s regulation of toxic chemicals is in crisis, unable to deliver badly needed protection to the American people. These benighted programs are among a couple of dozen of “high priority” failures that cause serious harm to public health, waste resources, or endanger national security, and Congress is giving the report red carpet treatment, with House and Senate hearings on the report scheduled the very day it was released.

Type: Op-Eds (April 14, 2015)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
The Next Top Prosecutor and White Collar Crime

Writing for Huffington Post and ACSBlog, Renat Steinzor observes that, in the wake of a series of accidents related to a defective ignition switch in GM cars, the "Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into GM’s conduct and the next attorney general will decide whether and how to charge the company. President Obama’s nominee, Loretta Lynch, will need to make a break with the misguided policies of her predecessor, Eric Holder, when the GM case hits her desk."

Type: Op-Eds (April 11, 2015)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Joint Letter from Law Professors and Lawyers re TSCA Reform Bill

Joint Letter from broad group of law professors and lawyers re TSCA Reform Bill

Type: Legislative Testimony (March 16, 2015)
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Bad Feds, Deadly Meds

Bad Feds, Deadly Meds, op-ed by Rena Steinzor

Type: Op-Eds (March 1, 2015)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor

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