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Recent Changes in US Regulations
By: David C. Steinberg, Steinberg & Associates
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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The forms can be found at: www.aphis.usda.gov/library/forms/pdf/ppq505.pdf. There is no definition in the Act of what is considered wild, nor is it clear whether companies register materials if their products can be used for foods and in other applications.
Although this author initially thought it would be easy to comply with the information required by the Act, upon reading the USDA form it became apparent that much more information is required than the Act requires (see Data Required for USDA Registration of Lacey Act Materials). This form provides definitions and instructions for filling in the required fields. Comments The USDA has stated that “the Lacey Act amendments are a new tool that will help the United States to support the efforts of other countries, and its own states, to combat illegal logging and other threats to biodiversity.”1 Further, it continues: “the plan is to begin this Dec. 15, 2008, with voluntary declarations, using a paper-based system. Meanwhile, we’re developing an electronic process to make it easy for importers to submit declarations. Once that system is ready, we plan to phase-in enforcement, beginning probably next April, for wood and live trees and plants, and then adding wood pulp, paper, musical instruments and furniture next July. Our goal here is informed compliance.”2
Informed compliance may be the objective, but compliance by the other 99.9% (I’m exaggerating here) of imports to file all this data for every shipment will only create a ton of paper or electronic submissions—which are expected to be available in early 2009—with little to be gained. Why couldn’t the USDA just list the plants (genus and species) that are of concern, and require registrations for only these? It would be much cheaper and save industry and the USDA valuable time while also accomplishing the Act’s purpose.
Just imagine an ingredient supplier that imports starting raw materials such as vegetable oils to make fatty acids, or essential oils for fragrances or resale. It would impose an impossible task on them to file all this documentation for each shipment; is the seed from a “wild” species or a planted one? and how does one tell the difference? At least the country of origin would not be as difficult and genus and species are available in the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names; and recycling is likely not an issue.
However, this author pities the foreign cosmetic manufacturer who is trying to sell to the US market, or foreign contract manufacturers for US companies. Tracking down the country of origin for their ingredients, including fragrances and packaging, and releasing trade secrets such as amounts of essential oils in a fragrance, and information about the paper used on labels, is beyond anyone’s worst nightmare.