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 September 2007
Global Notebook

USTR Seeks Public Comment, Announces Hearing on China’s Compliance with WTO Commitments

The Office of the United States Trade Representative is convening a September hearing and seeking public comment on China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession commitments. In particular, USTR is interested in receiving written comments and/or oral testimony with regard to:

• Standards, technical regulations and other internal policies affecting trade;
• Import and export regulations;
• Trading rights;
• Intellectual property rights;
• Services; and
• Rule of law issues (e.g., transparency, judicial review, uniform administration of laws) and status of legal reform.

Written comments must be received no later than noon on Sept. 17. The public hearing will be held on Sept. 27 at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Individuals wishing to testify at the hearing must provide written notification of their intent, along with a copy of their testimony by noon on Sept. 13. Recommendations may be submitted electronically to FR0713@ustr.eop.gov, or via fax to Gloria Blue, executive secretary of the USTR Trade Policy Staff Committee (202/395-6143). For complete details on submitting recommendations, please review the July 25 Federal Register notice.

Sustainability Podcasts Free at ASME Web Site

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is now offering free audio downloads of two sustainability Webinar courses through www.asme.org. The two courses, which are presented by ASME and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, cover the topics, “Shaping Your Sustainability Strategy and Moving to Action” and “Sustainability Tools: Applying Life Cycle Assessment.” For more information, click here.

ANSI Event to Address Import Safety, Strengthen Consumer Confidence

From food products to children’s toys, a growing influx of imported goods is failing to meet our nation’s rigorous health, safety and environmental standards. In response to rising concerns, the American National Standards Institute will convene a one-day open forum aimed at strengthening American confidence in consumer product safety. The objective is to leverage standards and related compliance programs as the core component of any new or ongoing consumer protection initiatives. The event, Building Consumer Confidence, will be held on Sept. 26 in Washington, D.C. ANSI will bring together a broad spectrum of stakeholders to address concerns about consumer goods, particularly imports, and to develop a coordinated action plan that can be supported by consumers, industry and government. The event is open to all stakeholders, including consumers and consumer representatives, government legislative and regulatory bodies, industry, standards developing organizations, certification organizations and other interested parties. There is no fee to participate; advance registration is required and space limitations may apply. Program details, the latest agenda, and registration information are available on ANSI’s event Web page.

BIFMA Leading Charge to Standardize Green Furniture

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association is leading the development of a national sustainable assessment standard for the manufacture of environmentally friendly, or green, furniture. To address the entire life cycle of a product — from manufacturing through recycling and composting — the standard will encourage the use of glues, laminates, plastics and other materials that are safe for the environment. The project is expected to be ready for review in early 2009 with the goal of eventually moving the standard into the global furniture market. BIFMA is a not-for-profit membership organization that serves businesses engaged in the design, development and marketing of office and institutional furniture products. BIFMA’s voluntary product and industry standards aim to support a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship Awards

To encourage promising graduate students to pursue crystallography oriented research, the International Centre for Diffraction Data has established the Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship Fund. Multiple recipients are selected on a competitive basis, each receiving an award of $2,500. Applications must be received by the ICDD by Oct. 31. Applicants should be enrolled in a graduate degree program during the 2008 calendar year and have major interest in crystallography, e.g., crystal structure analysis, crystal morphology, modulated structures, correlation of atomic structure with physical properties, systematic classification of crystal structures, phase identification and materials characterization. There are no restrictions on country, race, age or gender. The term of the scholarship is one year. For complete information on ICDD’s new online application procedure, click here.

Ginkgo SRMs: Tools for Product Analysis/Quality

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a suite of Standard Reference Materials for ginkgo biloba, one of the most popular dietary supplements in the marketplace, with annual worldwide sales estimated at $1 billion. The NIST reference materials are designed to help researchers validate the accuracy of analytical methods for flavonoids and terpene lactones (plant constituents that may be associated with the perceived effectiveness of ginkgo) as well as toxic elements in ginkgo. In addition to supporting measurements associated with clinical trials or verifying product label claims, the reference materials also can be used by dietary supplement manufacturers to improve product consistency. The fruits and seeds of the female ginkgo are used for a variety of purposes in traditional Chinese medicine. In the West, dietary supplements are more commonly formulated from ginkgo leaves and standardized leaf extracts. They are used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, fatigue and tinnitus (ringing in the ears); for memory improvement and for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, although these uses have not been backed by rigorous clinical trials. Ginkgo biloba contains a family of chemical constituents known as ginkgolides which have been associated with reduced platelet aggregation. For more information, click here.