TreeHuggers well know that the regluation of chemical commodities and health care product ingredients has "slowed" a bit...its the voluntary thing... and that this approach feeds consumer cynicism. What few realize is that the personal care ingredients overseen by the US FDA have always 'grandfathered' in many common items: meaning they've never really been evaluated for health risk. Diving into risk assessment headlong, the Europeans and to some extent the Japanese have stepped up to the challenge, causing a fair amount of grumbling, and accusations of "protectionism" from US companies and their proxies in the Federal Government.
The breadth of possible impact is huge: "...the EU, with 25 countries and 460 million people, surpasses even the United States as a market. Rather than lose access to it, many companies redesign their products to meet European standards"..."Cosmetics sold in Europe cannot contain about 600 substances that are allowed in U.S. products, including, as of last September, any compound linked to cancer, genetic mutations and reproductive effects".
Brand USA="dirty"; Brand EU="clean." That's a pretty straightforward pair of equations. To complete the reaction series, we add these two: Organic ="clean"; EU=>USA on the distribution of more "natural" health care products.
Putting these together we get some unpredictable situations. Market will change slowly. Over the short term, expect some unusual politics and M&A; activity. Hypotheticals: a mad scramble to snap up small personal health care makers or "emulate" their formulations; a "coat-tail" effect that benefits small pioneering companies when transnationals advertise their new "naturalized" products; attempts to keep US markets uninformed about what's happening elsehwere, or to spin those changes as foolish or economically unwise; legal challenges over intellectual property and manufacturing licensing rights; suits over copyright infringement, WTO grievance filings, and so on.
No matter what the outcome the eventual bottom line for TreeHuggers is good. The political culture of Washington DC is losing its stranglehold over choice. Design happens.