CPSC Favors Manufacturers Over Consumers, Public Citizen Warns

A prominent consumer watchdog group indicates that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has become too “cozy” with industry, and is betraying its mandate to protect the public from dangerous products. 

Last week, Public Citizen’s counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, Remington A. Gregg, testified (PDF) before the commission, warning that it needs to avoid allowing companies to influence its decisions and prevent those companies from blocking the flow of needed safety information to the public.

The comments came as part of a hearing on the CPSC’s agenda and priorities for the fiscal years 2019 and 2020. Part of the commission’s plans include improving the commission’s databases to make them more timely and transparent, but critics say that under the new administration, there have been worrying signs that consumers are being blocked from vital safety information in order to make things more convenient for corporations.

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“Sadly, we see an agency that is increasingly more partisan, hiring senior staff with ties to industry, and a White House intent on nominating commissioners who seem eager to protect corporate interests,” Gregg said in a press release. “The mission of the nation’s chief product safety agency is to protect consumers from unnecessary risk, injury and death – not do the industry’s bidding.”

Public Citizen noted that CPSC Acting Chair Anne Marie Buerkle regularly opposed increasing health and safety regulations to protect the public while she’s been on the commission, and another nominee for the commission, Dana Baiocco has spent her career defending companies from product liability lawsuits.

The group has called on the CPSC to make improvements in informing the public about product recalls, to increase the transparency of its decision-making process, and to dedicate more resources to answering Freedom of Information Act requests in a timely manner.

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