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Monday June 07, 2021

CPSC Supervision of Firewalled Labs Gets Airing

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CPSC staff will not have delegated power for future reviews of a Chinese lab that commissioners June 2 granted firewalled status. That outcome occurred after Commissioner Peter Feldman raised concerns about oversight ability and process.


Commissioners did vote 4-0 to allow firewalled status, but a secondary vote for delegation failed 2-2 along party lines. That means CPSC's biennial reviews of the lab's status must end with commission votes.


The lab in question is Guangsheng M&P Manufacturing, but Feldman's concerns were not specific to it.


Rather, his line of questioning involved the fact that CPSC powers are limited to reviewing documents such as policies against undue influence and whistleblower protections.


On the other hand, he did hear from agency staff that lab-accreditation organization do more-thorough and periodic reviews. Firewalled labs must have such accreditation.


Feldman's focus also included whether labs in China can successfully adhere to CPSIA mandates given that nation's records on matters like transparency and whistleblowing. Indeed, he pointed to the recent elevation of the possible credibility of the lab-leak theory of the pandemic's origin.


He further suggested a possible need to revisit the firewalled approval process, whether through another look at CPSC requirements or legislative action.