General Question

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Why hasn't the USA banned certain products and practices that have already been banned in Europe?

Asked by ParaParaYukiko (6111points) May 29th, 2010

I’ve heard a lot about products and practices that have been banned in Europe but not the USA. For example, rBGH (a synthetic growth hormone given to cows that increases the risk of cancer) and energy drinks (proven to increase risk of heart attacks, banned in some European countries). This site lists several dangerous food products banned in Europe but not the USA.

I don’t get it. What’s taking us so long? Why do manufacturers and companies in the USA get the right to produce products that have been proven to be harmful?

If someone could explain this to me, I would be very grateful.

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35 Answers

Seek's avatar

Your link doesn’t work

KatawaGrey's avatar

To be fair, there are a number of products that have been banned in the US that are available in Europe. If memory serves, I believe Heath Ledger actually died because one of the drugs in the cocktail he was taking was not approved by the American FDA but had been approved in Europe. I think it’s a matter of priorities in each place. The bottom line is that there are lots of things that are harmful. Alcohol is harmful. Polyester is harmful. Make up is harmful. Cars are harmful.

primigravida's avatar

@KatawaGrey is absolutely right. It works both ways. When I was in Greece, I was absolutely HORRIFIED that every single air conditioner in the country ran on FREON which we have stopped using many many years ago, because it is terrible for your health. (which was pretty evident when you’re using a freon ac unit, you get a strange “sickness” from it) Also, in Europe they hardly every refrigerate their eggs, whereas we always refrigerate ours. A friend of mine drank a bottle of milk she left in our office overnight. It made me queasy just watching that, knowing it had been sitting there all night long (in Greece mind you, where it’s hot), but she didn’t see the issue. Some people just have different views on what’s bad for you. So yeah, we’re not the only ones, using questionable products.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I checked both links and I don’t seem to have any trouble with them…

Silhouette's avatar

Well I know you’re not going to believe this but America isn’t exactly the progressive country they say it is. Take our health care for instance, reminds me of the medieval serfs and peasants rule of old.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@KatawaGrey @primigravida Hmmm! I never knew that! Thanks for informing me. Good to know we’re not the only stupid ones out there. xD

@Silhouette I tend to agree when it comes to a lot of things… It’s frustrating. Not to mention how the rest of the world is metric yet we stubbornly refuse to give up our nonsensical English measurements. Seems awfully silly.

Seek's avatar

Google Chrome seems to think it’s a redirect loop. Ah well

arpinum's avatar

Maybe it has to do with those pesky people who want freedom over their own bodies.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@arpinum I understand wanting freedom to your own bodies, but a lot of people don’t realize what they’re eating is harmful. Do you think as many people would eat products with rBGH if they knew they’d be putting themselves at risk for cancer? As far as I know, rBGH doesn’t make food taste any better.

I don’t think the government banning foods that have clearly been proven to be dangerous is a matter of “freedom over one’s own body.”

lilikoi's avatar

Interestingly, the rBGH thing in our country took a step backward when the labeling that mfg who do NOT use it was forced to be reworded to be more obtuse. kind of like my assertion here as I don’t recall the details, but a quick search would yield more info

In general it can be a factor of many things – profit, politics, practicality… Plastic is in no way good for us (it’s toxic to make it, use it in some cases, recycle it, dump it), and yet the material performance we get from plastic relative to cost so far cannot be quite matched.

Primobabe's avatar

@Silhouette I agree 100%. The U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t have universal health care, pensions, free or affordable post-secondary education, and paid leave time. Life here is very harsh and cut-throat, yet so many Americans have been deluded into believing that they’re the luckiest people on earth.

bolwerk's avatar

Personal and political regulation tends to be lower at least in western Europe than it is in the United States. This includes municipal regulation. As a general rule, expect that corporate/commercial regulation will be higher though.

Banning something isn’t often an effective solution solution to problems that exist outside the regulatory concerns of the state. For instance, at least more complex financial systems require a state to issue fiat currency; whatever rules of engagement are there are there because the state made them up. Transportation systems are similar; they’re almost always state-produced or at least state-chartered (they’re probably the main reason modern states exist in the first place). The state can therefore regulate such systems without many drawbacks. OTOH, people are going to smoke weed, drink beer, and have sex regardless of what the state says, so deviation from the state’s stated position on such matters may hurt you, but it won’t ever be effectively stopped. More enlightened states recognize that and live with that, despite the (psycho-sexual?) inclinations of people who administer governments to control what less powerful people do.

arpinum's avatar

many things are dangerous, but I would like to be the decider if the trade-off it worth it to me. If you are concerned that people aren’t aware of the dangers, how about promoting the dangers and letting people decide.
Its easy to allow the freedom to make smart choices, harder to allow the freedom to make stupid choices.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

Though this may surprise everybody but this is the United States of America and not Europe. Different Countries, different rules. European countries should have no influence on what we do or how we run things.

janbb's avatar

I think Americans have more distrust of government than big business for some strange reason and an antipathy to being told what is good for them for another strange reason.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think that our Founding Fathers, given a couple of centuries and a few extra years to think about their experiment in liberty, and about what ‘liberty’ really means, would be horrified to see the number and type of products that we have banned.

They might be equally horrified to see some of the things that we have developed and consume, but that’s completely beside the point. A place that believes in “freedom” for its citizens doesn’t ban much of anything. Apparently that place will not be found on this planet.

bolwerk's avatar

@janbb: Americans are the ones who ban things because someone might enjoy them.

janbb's avatar

@bolwerk That has some truth to it too. How come we are often pro-censorship and anti- regulation?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@janbb because you’re talking about different sets of people, generally.

The people who are pro-censorship are usually also in favor of their own pet regulations, although those may not be the set of regulations you have in mind (whatever that set is). And the people who favor the regulations you may be thinking of (whatever they may be), are also in favor of their own brands of censorship.

I’m pretty much pro-choice on everything.

There’s a lot of garbage that IMHO never should have been produced in the first place (in terms of publication and media), but I’d never try to decide that an adult shouldn’t have the opportunity to rot his / her mind with it. Likewise food, drugs (of all kinds, even the ‘recreational’ variety) and other consumer products.

And don’t kid yourself about this country being “anti-regulation”. We are all about regulations, rules, zoning… and ‘guidelines’ having the force of law.

dealrrr's avatar

i believe whoever pays congress more gets the business. deadly or not isn’t a concern.

janbb's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I actually think many of the big business Puritans I am thinking of are both pro-censorship and anit-regulation but I have no data to support my hypothesis. Nevertheless, there is a wide swath you could drive an elephant herd through between your libertarianism and my liberalism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

cazzie's avatar

hahaha… @CyanoticWasp American’s seem more frightened of boobies than the growth hormones and chemicals they put in their food and eat and give them cancer that they can’t get proper health care for. Which, suddenly… isn’t funny anymore. don’t know why I started laughing…. must have been the boobies. And it’s late here and I’m watching the Eurovision Song Contest, which has left me giddy and overtired. Congrats Germany! Grats Tyskland!

It does work both ways, but I wouldn’t trade my free healthcare here in Europe for being able to buy hard liquor at the gas station.

kevbo's avatar

Most of those disparities cited in your links can be linked to support of the U.S.‘s military industrial complex. Correct me if I am wrong, but I would guess that the EU doesn’t have a defense industry on the same scale. So the idea is that there is a “national security” interest in maintaining production capacity of certain chemicals or quantities of food. It also enables imperialism, for example, if “we” (i.e. the corporatocracy) get third world nations to accept GMOs under the guise of aid.

The chlorinated chicken issue probably has more to do with the centralization of food production, which may not be as prevalent in the EU, plus maybe the general disconnect Americans have with their sources of food. We swim in chlorinated swimming pools, and our drinking water is chlorinated, so I’m sure enough people don’t see a material difference.

Then there’s the issue of “soft kill” methods of population control, which is another couple of paragraphs of thought.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@cazzie I guess the German educational system isn’t all it’s been cracked up to be if you think you have “free” healthcare. Enjoy that blissful ignorance while you can.

Primobabe's avatar

@cazzie For what’s it’s worth, not all Americans are rednecks who buy liquor at gasoline stations. Some of us are quite evolved and aware of the world that surrounds us.

primigravida's avatar

@Primobabe If you think life in the US is harsh try living somewhere else. I never had so much appreciation for how CONVENIENT and easy living here is compared to another country. Believe me, this is nothing. No, we might not have free healthcare, but at least ours is good. I’ve been in hospitals in other countries that DO have free healthcare, and let’s put it this way: I prayed that nothing would happen to me that might cause for me to end up there. It ticks me off when people moan about the problems in the US if they haven’t even seen how screwy some OTHER places in the world are. We are freaking LUCKY to have what we have here. Yes we have to pay a lot for things (healthcare/education) but at least we get a good quality. Some of the free education and healthcare out there… well, you get what you pay for.

There seems to be a lot of US hate in this thread. I wonder how many people who are so negative have actually been to the US for a prolonged period of time and have bothered to educate themselves properly about the country? I don’t mean a week in NYC or LA, those places are absolutely no indicative of what the entire country is like. I was never what I would call a patriot or very pro my country, until I left, traveled around other places, and saw what went down in other parts of the world. Now, I can definitely say, I love my country. Things WORK here and people are very polite and warm hearted. Until you’ve been here and experienced this, you really don’t have much leverage to complain about us, if you know nothing about how we live or work. Just my two cents.

Primobabe's avatar

@primigravida If you think life in the US is harsh try living somewhere else.

Although I was born and raised in the U.S., I’ve spent significant time living in France, Ireland, and England. Also, my husband and I have a place in French St. Martin. Kindly don’t talk down to me as if I’m an ignoramus.

Life is very harsh here. I always return to the U.S. because it’s my home and, frankly, because I’m the sort of person who can be happy just about anywhere; I like Americans a great deal. But, Americans need to step down from their Hubris Throne and learn more about life in other cultures.

Seek's avatar

I’m sure life in the US is just grand if you happen to have enough of the Almighty Dollar. For those of us that don’t, every day is living in hope that nothing happens to send us to the hospital.

primigravida's avatar

@Primobabe Sorry if you thought I was being rude to you, but I honestly wasn’t. In my opinion it’s your attitude that’s a bit rude, and it’s a tad ironic that you are speaking about the hubris of the average American. Your throne seems to be quite high, indeed.

Primobabe's avatar

@primigravida First you attacked me, but you did begin your follow-up message with an apology. That was nice, and you should have left things that way. I would have graciously accepted, and we could have had an interesting conversation under the flag of Mutual Respect.

Please do not engage me in further discussion or respond to any of my questions. I come to Fluther for healthy debate and discussion, not for your sort of ridicule. Farewell.

primigravida's avatar

@Primobabe Please do kindly get of your high horse and grow up. I didn’t come back to this wonderful country that I love to be harassed on the internet by a total stranger who clearly thinks she knows more than anyone else here. Thanks.

Obviously not everyone has the same experiences when they live here or elsewhere. All I can say for mine is that I struggled in other places in ways I never have here. Our salaries (even just the minimum wage) is much higher than other places and the standard of living costs a lot less. In MY experience, the US is a very easy place to live. I’m sorry if anyone disagrees, and wish everyone could experience the support and love from people here that I have.

primigravida's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I have never made a lot of money, usually just enough to get by. When I did have health insurance (I don’t currently) it was basic student insurance, which was pretty crappy. So while I’ve never lived a life of luxury (and I hope you weren’t implying that I am), I’ve never been forced to work two or three jobs and commute four hours a day to get to them, only to just barely make enough to live on. My meager salary suits me, and the area I live in, just fine.

perspicacious's avatar

Because Europe is not our hero.

cazzie's avatar

@CyonoticWasp, I DON’T live in Germany. And I pay less in tax than you do (supposing you have a job, where as I don’t, I’m self employed and can’t pay myself anything yet) but my healthcare is still free. I’m glad I live in a country where people look after each other by choosing, DEMOCRATICALLY, to do so with no ‘government guns pointed at our heads’. Of course health care is paid for, but in our system, it doesn’t have to support billions of dollars of fat cat middlemen in their tall glass insurance buildings.

@primigravida I was born in the US and lived there for half of my life. I think I can speak with some credibility on the subject. I’m glad that your life is what you want it to be, but we’re not talking about you specifically. We’re talking about generalities. And we’re talking about regulations, not standards of living (which, btw, is a matter of fact based on this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index) I believe I live in the first country on this list and you live in the 13th. If we’re speaking PERSONALLY, I personally, had a higher standard of living when I was living in the country ranked 20 on this list… so you see… I’m not talking about personal experience, just general.

@primobabe I’m one of those American’s to which you speak, BUT my point was that the value placed on ‘NO RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS’ ends up being reflected in strange ways. To me, having fewer hang-ups about an exposed breast but being more restrictive about where alcohol can be purchased makes more sense in a regulatory way than what currently exist in the US. It’s no panacea where I live. I wish I could buy wine at my grocery store, but I can’t.

mattbrowne's avatar

Scientists don’t always agree when it comes to potential dangers of products. But it’s always a good idea to read about each other findings.

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