EU Court Boosts U.S. Efforts to Expand Toxic Substance Disclosures

    Nov 12, 2013

    The General Court of the European Union (EU) recently issued a judgment requiring companies to disclose proprietary information related to certain pesticides. The ruling overturns an EU Commission decision that information requested by Greenpeace and the Pesticide Action Network related to the identity and quantity of impurities present in an active substance in widely used, broad-spectrum pesticides was protected from public disclosure.

    The court decision is likely to create problems for companies that have already submitted data to EU regulatory agencies with the expectation that the information would be protected against public disclosure. Further, the erosion of laws protecting proprietary information could potentially boost legislative and regulatory efforts in the United States favoring increased public disclosure of information and a narrowing of the type of information considered “confidential business information” (CBI).

    Since 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been trying to increase transparency regarding toxic substances by scrutinizing CBI claims and encouraging companies to voluntarily declassify more information. At the same time, bipartisan legislation (S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act) to reauthorize and overhaul the Toxic Substance Control Act is expected to advance in Congress. Among other things, the legislation seeks to limit certain health and safety information that is protected from disclosure and imposes tougher requirements on companies asserting confidentiality claims involving chemical identities. The EPA is seeking to influence the legislative process by recently publishing a document entitled “Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation.” To view the document, visit this link.

    The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.


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