Senate slated to take up cosmetic safety and regulation. Why?

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Cosmetics-How Do They Look in the LightAn article in yesterday s NYTimes revealed that two U.S.Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are proposing a bill to tighten the FDA s regulatory oversight of the cosmetics industry. Their motivation? Has there been an epidemic of lipstick-related diabetes, or shampoo-induced allergic skin diseases? Or anything that can be reliably (or even possibly) related to deviations from sound commercial, production or purification issues the cosmetics industry has been dealing with since...well, since cosmetics have existed? No.

The senators seem to be concerned that the cosmetics industry has been almost entirely self-regulating over the years, and that is simply unacceptable to a certain group of activists and their pals in the legislature who think no industry is to be trusted, no matter the lack of evidence for ulterior behavior. For example, one acknowledged force behind the current proposal is the Environmental Working Group, whose splinter group is called Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Need we say more?

The industry trade group s statement is quite diffident on this new idea, asserting that they are fine with working with the FDA and the Congress to create a more contemporary system for the cosmetics and personal care sector.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross has a somewhat different perspective: ACSH s publication on cosmetics and health, Health Claims Against Cosmetics: How Do They Look in the Light? discusses this important issue as well as the regulatory structures in place at that time, almost 10 years ago. Nothing significant has changed since then, so if it s not broke, why fix it? My guess is that the industry just got tired of repeatedly fending off such assaults from anti-chemical groups who have deep influence over certain lawmakers and regulators, and said, OK, let s work with the Senate and accept some modicum of regulation to avoid more stringent efforts down the road. We are dismayed at that attitude, since we know it derives from hypothetical and hyper-precautionary fears rather than science.