Product Safety: House Committee on Energy and Commerce Testimony

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 23:16
Posted in category From the Factory Floor, Red Tape
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For those who read Last week, you may have noticed that I made a quick reference some Dr. Tea gave to the boys inside the beltway… well, here are a few more details on Dr. Tea as well as her testimony.

So first… Dr. Tea (Professor Mary Teagarden), is a close friend of mine and of many Thunderbirds is one of those old China hands who have spent the better part of the last 30 years working with China. She lived in Beijing when you still had to ride your bike across town to schedule international phone calls, she has advised dozens of companies entering China, she has worked with various government entities, and that is why she was asked to The Hill to give her thoughts on the recent product recalls.

Next.. the hearings Committee Questions Consumer Product Safety Commission, Mattel on Lead-Tainted Products and Toy Recalls

The session was split into two panels, and while toys were the primary focus, more important issues were discussed (support for agencies, legislation needed, etc). The participants included:

Panel 1 included:
Dana Best, M.D., M.P.H. – American Academy of Pediatrics (PDF testimony here)
Olivia D. Farrow, Esq., R.S. -Assistant Commissioner,Division of Environmental Health Baltimore City Health Department (PDF testimony here)
Michael Green – Executive Director, Center for Environmental Health (PDF testimony here)
Lori Wallach – Director, Global Trade Watch (PDF testimony here)
Mary Teagarden – Professor of Global Strategy, Thunderbird School of Global Management (PDF testimony here)

Panel 2 included:
Carter Keithley – President, Toy Industry Association, Inc. (PDF testimony here)
Allen Thompson – Vice President, Global Supply Chain Policy, Retail Industry Leaders Association (PDF testimony here)
Michael Gale – Fashion Jewelry Trade Association (PDF testimony here)
Gary E. Knell – CEO and President, Sesame Workshop (PDF testimony here)
Kathie Morgan – Vice President, Technical Committee Operations, ATSM International (PDF testimony here)

With over 3 hours of testimony and Q&A (download the 150 MB WMV file here to watch in its entirety), there was a lot said, and for me what is most important was the fact that the caliber of people on the panels was very high, and each were able to bring a significant amount of experience to the table.

Dr. Tea’s testimony for me provided some of the best comments as they addressed the greater situation, which is something that has been lacking. For much of the time, the details were being dived into- and that is an important part of the process – but through Dr. Tea’s testimony it was made clear that this is not a problem that can be blamed on a single party. That to overcome these issues, there are many persons that need to work together.

In addition to her solid testimony, she also had the best comment, which really summed up how companies and the US government needs to approach quality control:

I recognize that blame also belongs to China. China can do a lot more than it currently does to address the problem of lead-tainted products. However, we do not control China. China controls China. We can do our best to influence China. We can and must do our best to control us. But knowing what to control is not that clear or easy. There are many opportunities for control within this complex commercial system

Great job Dr. Tea! I only hope that the message got through and the punitie measures that are being thrown are avoided and we see real collaborative efforts come to the forefront.

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