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State Senate passes ivory trafficking, toxic flame retardants bills

Bridgewater Independent - 7/4/2018

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed two bills on June 21 that respectively banned the trafficking of non-exempt ivory and rhinoceros horns (s.2553) and the practice of treating children's products with toxic chemical flame retardants (s.2555)

An Act relative to ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking, sponsored by state Sen. Jason M. Lewis, aligns Massachusetts law with current federal law and seeks to curtail the sale and trafficking of ivory. It restricts the trade of most ivory and rhino horn products with exemptions for antiques that are legal under the federal Endangered Species Act - legally acquired products with a small amount (less than 200 grams) of ivory/horn, musical instruments, inheritance and sale or donation to scientific and educational institutions.

"Our worldwide ecosystem is a delicate balance," said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco. "By banning ivory trafficking, this bill confronts an environmental issue with serious consequences to habitats that depend on elephant and rhinoceros populations. It also brings our state law in line with federal illegal poaching laws and supports the ideals of the Endangered Species Act. I appreciate Senator Lewis's attention to this matter and the opportunity to do whatever we can do in Massachusetts to help."

Poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue but also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates. Furthermore, the scale of poaching today supplies a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption. These groups use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

An Act to protect children and families from harmful flame retardants, sponsored by state Sen. Cynthia S. Creem, D-Newton, establishes an initial list of 11 chemical flame retardants that would be subject to the ban. The list is based on scientific research which shows that exposure may lead to an increased risk of cancer, neurological issues, fertility problems and other health concerns. The bill requires that manufacturers notify retailers about those products which contain the chemicals before the ban goes into effect.

"This bill will reduce the risk of exposing children in the Commonwealth to toxic chemicals," said Pacheco. "I'm pleased that my Senate colleagues have made it a priority to ban substances like these from children's toys and encourage the use of safer alternatives."

This legislation previously passed the Senate in 2016. It will now be sent to the House of Representatives for further action.


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