France Passes Bill to Ban Parabens and Phthalates in Cosmetics

law to ban parabensBy vote on May 3rd members of the French National Assembly voted to pass a bill of law that would immediately ban the use of endocrine disruptors such as phthalates, alkylphenols, and Parabens in consumer products. In order for the bill to become a law a further vote is required by French Senators which has not yet been scheduled.

The new potential law is causing a high level of confusion amongst the French cosmetic industry, generating disbelief from the opposition and satisfaction from some consumer advocacy groups, and natural and organic cosmetic makers.

The French Chemical Industry Reacts

The Union of Chemical Industries (UIC), a French association representing the French chemical industry, feels the law is a “disproportionate reaction… and excessive degree of precaution, completely disregarding the proper scientific processes and the careful logic applied by the European regulations.”

Opponents to the bill said that toxicity studies of endocrine disruptors “still rely on the definition of daily intake, while potential cocktail effects or the effect of small doses have been hardly or not studied.

To further strengthen the opposition’s scientific and technical case, they endorsed evidence from INSERM and the ANSES of which neither have made their final risk assessment.  Moreover, REACH, the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use, does not ban all use of endocrine disruptors.

In addition, the UIC is concerned about the ramifications of the law whereby they feel many of the applications which use phthalates, Parabens and derivatives of alkylphenols are not technically substitutable.

Support from NGOs and Organic Companies

The position of consumer advocacy groups, NGOs, and organic and natural cosmetic companies is obviously very different, especially regarding possible substitutes. They welcome the strong stance the French deputies have taken and would very much like to see the bill pass through the senate and become a law.

The vote and potential new law strengthens the manufacturing and branding strategies of organic and natural cosmetic manufacturers. The majority of the natural and organic cosmetic industry has already stopped using or has always refused to use Parabens and other endocrine disruptors in their products.

Yet research gaps do exist, and further studies are required for both sides to be fully supported by scientific evidence. For example, Parabens have been thoroughly tested for acute toxicity, and for this reason the proponents feel it has remained an acceptable preservative. However, very few studies show the consequences of the accumulation of small daily doses absorbed through the skin.

To Be Determined

Nothing is final and the bill faces many potential outcomes. If senators approve the bill as it is written it would become a law applicable upon publication in the Official Journal. However, it could also be rejected, or a vote could be enacted to amend the bill’s text.

Regardless of the outcome, it is a courageous step for French Deputies and hopefully it will reverberate to other countries and governing bodies. After all, it seems the French government is putting the consumers’ best interests first by eliminating ingredients with potential harmful effects. If the bill becomes a law, gone will be the day when big companies dictate regulation and safety standards despite of deep vested interests.



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Posted by on May 16th, 2011 and filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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