Over the past few years, tremendous skepticism has surrounded the regulation and safety of consumer cosmetic products here in the United States (US). Last year alone, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that there was asbestos in makeup and cosmetics products found on shelves here in the States. Besides, notable cases involving asbestos contamination, with pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson, high-lighted newsreels that captured landmark settlements, jury awards, consumer deaths, and intricate details caused by asbestos-related exposure due to contamination in various products.
In fact, many controversial issues came to light, including Johnson and Johnson cases of asbestos contamination and exposure in their talc-based makeup and cosmetic products, but there were open-ended questions of how the US may need to change the way these products are regulated to ensure exceptional consumer product safety. These questions and concerns further prompted the FDA to hold its first publicly held agency meeting regarding testing of consumer cosmetic products for contaminants such as asbestos or other chemicals, since the 1970s.
Basically, asbestos is a group of carcinogenic silicate minerals that can be found naturally in the earth, almost all over the world. These mineral fibers have been used for consumer and commercial use, in over 3,000 different forms or applications. The drawback to asbestos mineral fibers is the harmful effects that can result from primary or secondary human exposure. Asbestos can cause or enhance lung cancer, lung disease, and mesothelioma cancer, which is a rare form of cancer that is exclusively developed by asbestos exposure.
The agency derived the February FDA meeting to encourage participation among consumers, manufacturers, distributors, and regulators, in an attempt to explain the hierarchical system of regulatory testing of asbestos in makeup and cosmetic consumer products. Also, the meeting went to reiterate the role of the FDA in the marketplace. Also, at the meeting, the FDA and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 under which it operates came into question, about how effective the act is in protecting the overall health and safety of cosmetic product consumers. Many consumers and lawmakers feel that the current law, which has not been viably altered since 1938, needs to be overhauled because it is not an effective deterrent to protect American consumers against asbestos in makeup.
European Standards Are More Stringent About Asbestos in Makeup
Likewise, opponents have even introduced additional legislation to give the FDA proper authority to ensure that specific chemicals used in cosmetics and other personal care products are safe. In turn, proponents for new legislation want to add power to the FDA to enhance current standards that include cosmetic product disclosures. They also argue the fact that “ FDA guidelines have not been updated since the Roosevelt administration and only prohibit the use of 11 ingredients in cosmetics versus the 1,300 plus ingredients that are banned from cosmetics in current European Union countries.
In comparison to the United States, the European Union (EU) requires pre-market safety testing of cosmetics, mandatory registration of cosmetic products, government authorization for the use of nanomaterials, and prohibits animal testing for cosmetic purposes. These actions are currently not required to proceed with placing cosmetic consumer products for sale, whether domestic or import, on the shelves here in the United States.
Compliance Standards Differ Between US And UK
In effect, would two dominant national economies, such as the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK), similar in global trade influence, but different in regulatory compliance and implementation standards, be willing to change critical ways in which each set aside their own national standards, in order to pursue and achieve a significant trade deal with each other?
UK Leaving The European Union (EU)
Currently, at the end of the year, the UK will no longer be a part of the European Union (EU). The EU is an economic and political union that includes 28 separate European countries. The purpose of the union allows for free trade, which accounts for goods between all of these countries to have access between each member’s nation without any checks, tariffs, or additional constraints. Also, the EU allows the free movement of people that are citizens of these nations to reside and work in whichever one of these countries they choose. The United Kingdom first joined this union back in 1973, and to date, will be the first country to withdraw from the EU. The UK exit from the EU is an extraordinary ordeal. In fact, the term ‘Brexit’ was coined specifically to describe the departure of the UK from the EU.
‘Brexit’ Will Affect UK And Other Nations
Why is the ‘Brexit’ such a big deal between trade with the US and the UK, especially when the business involves asbestos? Well, when it comes down to the issue of asbestos between the US and the UK, the difference between the environmental standards and consumer product requirements from both nations differ from each other. In more ways than one, both the US and UK, are almost complete opposites when it comes to their laws on regulatory guidelines and stipulations regarding asbestos in makeup and cosmetic consumer products, agricultural products, and minerals.
Asbestos in Makeup Heavily Used By US and UK In the Past
Asbestos is still used in limited forms or quantities here in the United States, but can no longer be mined for production or use; all of the asbestos in the US is imported. The United Kingdom has banned the mining and use of all asbestos products since 1999. In the past, both nations were large producers and consumers of asbestos products, especially during the early to midpart of the twentieth century.
UK Trade And Business Will Change
When the UK leaves the EU at the end of this year, there will be an enormous amount of change that will evolve due to the exit or ‘Brexit.’ According to the National Trade Estimate Report (NTE) compiled by the United States government, the US and EU share the most substantial economic relationship in the world.
In turn, the UK would be exiting this union. It would be subject to deal with its trade agreements without them, but exiting the EU would also enable the UK to have free reign to make free trade agreements that could benefit their nation’s overall best interests. Free trade agreements (FTA) are international agreements that seek to increase trade and investment between several nations by removing or reducing tariffs, non-tariff measures, and regulatory restrictions to services prohibiting trade and investment between partner countries.
Although the UK would no longer answer to EU protocols, there may still be a need to keep and reestablish former EU ties to obtain equal terms within their free trade agreements with other nations, especially the US. Inherently, once the UK lacks the leverage that comes from trading as part of a much larger market, as it was when it was part of the EU, the United Kingdom might become anxious to negotiate a good trade deal quickly with the world’s largest economy, the United States.
US Supports UK Exit Or ‘Brexit’
In comparison, President Trump supports Brexit; he criticizes multilateral institutions like the EU. Also, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that leaving the EU would free up the U.K. and allow it to reduce transaction costs with the United States. Both Pompeo and U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said they thought a deal could be completed this year, but trade experts remain skeptical. Aside from being a longtime ally with shared democratic values, the U.K. has been attractive to the U.S. because it could help America with its agenda in Europe. Once Britain is outside the EU, its influence and value to Washington are anticipated to decline because of the leverage the country may lose when it leaves the EU.
Alternatively, trade and investment barriers make it more difficult and costlier for nations to trade and invest overseas. At times, reducing or eliminating FTA’s can open the door for businesses to invest, import, and export their goods and services. On the other hand, consumers would also benefit from more options in the marketplace and potentially lower prices. No matter what, all parties entering negotiations to trade may be considered to cede differences or cater to additional agreements that might involve altering terms of each party’s approval. Part of the negotiation is deciding to agree or disagree with certain terms and conditions, but with an agreement that both parties are willing to uphold.
Both Countries Will Have To Alter Environmental Standards
For the US and UK to strike a trade agreement, both countries would have to come to terms with their different regulatory standards. On record, the US has far fewer statutory provisions or requirements, especially when it comes to consumer cosmetic products and food or agricultural standards. For example, environmental standards compared to the EU are comparatively less progressive than European guidelines. Still, many experts speculate whether the UK will turn back the ‘regulatory hands of time clock’ to cater more towards ‘lax’ US environmental standards, to close a lucrative trade deal.
US May Exert Trade Pressure Towards UK
Also, UK speculators wonder if “A trade deal might also lead to US direct investment, which could put pressure on British local authorities to allow environmentally damaging activities such as fracking. In the EU, overriding principles (such as the Precautionary Principle or the Polluter Pays Principle) guide legislation. The UK and the US do not have the same legal structure, which enshrines these principles. It is therefore uncertain whether environmental standards will remain the same after Brexit, or whether a US trade deal will lead to deregulatory pressure .“
In reply, US negotiators stress that any trade deal between both nations would be to cooperate to alleviate issues regarding regulatory compatibility by reducing the burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulations or standards. UK sentiments stress that:
“The UK government has been unequivocal that any future trade deal must work for UK consumers and businesses, upholding our high regulatory standards. The UK’s reputation for quality, safety, and performance is what drives demand for UK goods and is key to our long-term prosperity. We have no intention of harming this reputation in pursuit of a trade deal.”
As does the UK, the US believes in the importance of regulating chemicals or other harmful substances, like asbestos, to ensure the reduction and elimination of environmental health or safety risks. On another note, UK representatives fear that striking a trade deal with the US will lead to eliminating laws that prohibit dangerous ingredients in imported consumer cosmetic products or handling asbestos in makeup. Objectively, the UK seems to reiterate their stance to uphold high-quality levels of animal, plant, food, and public safety initiatives, without relinquishing their standard of quality when it comes to testing and ingredient requirements.
British Skeptics Fear The UK Will Deregulate To Accommodate US Trade Deals
Skeptics in the UK fear that a trade agreement with the US will put pressure on British authorities to deregulate and alter their ideals or legislation in order to garner a deal with the US. Besides, UK consumers and officials also speculate that subsiding regulations would also hurt their trade with the rest of Europe because of the large gap in regulatory compliance required for trade with the EU. Seemingly, some British experts feel, if the UK lowers their regulatory standards, they may hurt farmers, consumers, and the National Health Service (NHS), because cheaper or lower quality goods might flood the market to override UK items.
Also, while still having to maintain more stringent regulatory measures and requirements to trade with the EU nations, the UK may have to increase their prices so they can cater to those markets. At last, the UK may have to decide whether they lower their regulatory standards or if the US would be willing to increase their environmental standards, especially, to be fully compatible in the agricultural and consumer cosmetic product markets, with the UK and the EU.
At the moment, it may seem that the United States may have the upper hand, but if the US mirrored its regulatory standards to be more comparable with the UK, would they be able to capture a more significant market share inside the EU? In effect, there are so many different variables that could affect the outcome of the US increasing their environmental standards regarding consumer cosmetic product testing to be compliant with the UK or EU. On the other hand, would it be worth it for the US to increase its standards for entering a market that may require them to lower their prices even more to compete?
Economically, to answer those questions, it may all depend on who, what, why, when, and where. When the subject comes down to asbestos in makeup, who will be willing to give up ground to either ban asbestos or enable asbestos products to be put back into a market that has outlawed the material for over twenty years? The answer and the action could go either way depending on the nature of any trade deal made between the first (US) and the fifth (UK) largest economies in the world.
Thousands Die From Mesothelioma Cancer In The UK And US Every Year
Every year, there are over 3,300 people who die from mesothelioma cancer in the United States. In comparison, there are over 2,500 people who die annually from mesothelioma cancer in the United Kingdom. Currently, asbestos is entirely banned inside the UK, but not in the United States. If the US agrees to mirror specific environmental standards that now apply to the UK, which outright banned asbestos altogether, then would the cases of health risks associated with asbestos such as mesothelioma cancer decline? Or would the UK be willing to enhance their trade with the US by lifting the ban of asbestos and allowing asbestos-containing products such as asbestos in makeup to be sold within their marketplace again?
Asbestos Exposure Does Not Negotiate Its Harmful Effects
Surprisingly, the tradeoff sounds as if either nation, the UK, or the US, might be persuaded to change their overall standards regarding asbestos to strike a deal. In effect, one tradeoff that should never be comprised is the value of human health and well-being. Remember, asbestos does not negotiate when it comes to exposing others to its harmful effects. If you or a loved one feel like you may be suffering from the side- effects of asbestos exposure, please do not hesitate to call an experienced asbestos or mesothelioma attorney.