Industry Begins to Discuss Impacts of the Election

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As the dust settles after the election, industry members are discussing what the results mean.

Boston, MA-based Ceres congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Ceres CEO and President Mindy Lubber said in a press release: “Today’s election results are a win for our health, our planet, our economy, and our future. We now have a new President-elect and Vice President-elect that believe in science and facts, and that will bring bold new leadership and change.”

One major area in which Lubber awaits action: the Paris Agreement. The press release explains that the company was a co-founder of the We Are Still In coalition, which in 2017 helped to mobilize nearly 4,000 companies, investors, and other leaders across the country to help stay on track within the Agreement. “We now look forward to declaring, ‘We Are Back In’ the Paris Agreement, as one of the first steps the Biden administration plans to take to get us back on track. Climate change is the greatest human, environmental, economic and financial threat of our time—and today is a new day in tackling this threat.

“Together, we will work urgently to achieve a net-zero emissions future and limit average global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Lubber continued. “As the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, the U.S. will need to cut emissions nearly in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2040, at least a decade sooner than our original goals, in order to make up for the lack of federal climate action by the Trump administration over the last four years. We also support President-elect Biden’s commitment to require all Cabinet-level secretaries to take all appropriate steps to rapidly reduce U.S. emissions.”

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Lubber wrote an article in Forbes to the same effect, pointing to 10 actions Biden could take to bring the U.S. to the forefront of climate leadership. Besides joining the Paris Agreement, she suggests prioritizing a climate-smart economic recovery from COVID-19, protecting disadvantaged communities from environmental harm, protect biodiversity and public lands, and integrating environmental justice into government decision-making.

In the article, Lubber wrote that Biden promised to adopt measures to provide cleaner air and water for communities, “focusing on addressing the climate and other environmental impacts that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color.” He also pledged to commit 40% of clean energy funds to disadvantaged communities, Lubber noted. “Biden has promised to take into account the interests of underserved communities in government decision-making and planning—from assessing the environmental impacts of buildings and highways to other infrastructure projects and environmental issues.”

Looking beyond climate, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) hosted a webinar titled 2020 Election: What Just Happened? The webinar provided an overview of the actual results, and then Pete Evich, Vice President of Van Scoyoc Associates, took a look at what the industry may see in the coming years.

The industry has been debating mandatory product listings for quite some time now—and Evich said we may see some movement there. “We know that FDA is very interested in Mandatory Product Registration—they have been pushing that and they have continued to be more vocal and to increase their posture there, saying that that is a gap in the dietary supplement regulatory construct. They are working with congress to get that enacted. We know that consumer groups support that, and that a number of industry associations support that.”

On NDI regulations, too, we may see movement: “NDI guidance has been dormant for over two years; in a Biden FDA, we may see the reissuance of that. So that’s to be seen, but I think it’s a likely development.” Along similar lines, he pointed to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an anti-supplement group which, Evich says, besides promoting mandatory product listings, also recommends addressing the GRAS Self-Affirmation “loophole.”

Further CSPI recommendations include labeling supplements that interact with prescription drugs, mandatory reporting of non-serious adverse events, and increased funding for FDA for enforcement. “We should keep an eye on Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT),” Evich noted, “who is a leading voice on behalf of CSPI. She’s contending to be the next House Appropriations Chair, which would increase her sway.”

Another to keep an eye on: A co-chair of Biden’s COVID-19 task force, Dr. David Kessler. Former Commissioner of the FDA, Evich told attendees that Dr. Kessler was against DSHEA and is anti-supplement. It’s not all bad, though—Evich pointed out that the existing Chairman of House Energy & Commerce is Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who voted for DSHEA and was a member of the Dietary Supplement caucus.

When it comes to hemp, Evich says the future is still unclear. “I think we’re going to see FDA continue a slow-walk down a regulatory path for hemp and hemp-derived CBD. Two years ago, they said that would take up to five years. They have indicated a willingness to work legislatively, and there is a drive to make that happen—H.R. 8179, which would regulate CBD, was introduced in August, and it has the support of AHPA and other associations in the supplement space, as well as the hemp community. That momentum will continue into the 117th Congress.”

Much remains to be seen, obviously, and further predictions can’t be made until all Senate races are concluded. But when it comes to climate, at least, the future appears sunny.

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