Lynn L. Bergeson, co-author, “Practical Advice for Product Steward Professionals on Remaining Competent, Socially Aware, and Scientifically Proficient,” BNA Daily Environment Report, January 6, 2012.
Consumer product manufacturers are challenged today as never before. Materials selection for consumer products invites a dizzying range of considerations: Are the chemicals hormone disruptors, carcinogens, or persistent, bioaccumulative, or toxic? What toxicogenomic biomarkers might make the product the next celebrity tort case? What labeling requirements apply? What are the implications of genetic variations among the demographic to which the product is to be marketed? These considerations, in turn, invite legal, marketing, and technical issues that go well beyond questions of core compliance with the law. What exactly is the professional’s role? How are regional differences in regulatory standards, consumer perceptions, ingredient restrictions, and related factors to be addressed? Given the complexity of the global issues and the high stakes involved, what must a professional do to remain competent, socially aware, and scientifically proficient? This article explores these thorny questions, not to resolve them as much as to flag them, and urge professionals — whether lawyers, product stewards, scientists, or others in the field — to remain vigilant and as prepared as possible in recognizing the constantly shifting demands on professionals in this area.