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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Sunscreen Lobby

As Open Secrets reports, there really is a sunscreen lobby, and it's a good case study of how interest groups seek to influence regulators:
While you're baking in the sun this weekend to celebrate the first days of summer, don't forget the sunscreen. Also, remember that while you relax, someone in Washington is probably hard at work devising a lobbying strategy on what the label should say.

Public health advocates are not happy about the way sunscreen bottles are labeled, and for years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has considered updating and revising rules about just what sunscreen manufacturers can claim on those labels. The manufacturers -- yes, there is a "Big Sunscreen" lobby -- have fought long and hard to keep changes from coming. Searching the word "sunscreen" on the lobbying database provides evidence of that.

One of the first finds was a group called Citizens for Sun Protection -- which, based on it's name, you might expect to be a grassroots... sunscreen advocacy group? Digging into its lobbying disclosure forms, we found the group had lobbied Congress for several years on sunscreen related issues, and then in 2009 lobbied the FDA about the final wording of its labeling rules. And if it sounds odd that there was a grassroots sunscreen group, that's because it's not true: According to lobbying records, Citizens for Sun Protection was a creation of CIBA, a European chemical manufacturer. CIBA is now part of BASF, another European chemical company that recently bragged about manufacturing 50 percent of all the anti-UV ray chemicals used in sunscreen around the world.