Engelhardt presents research
at International PR Conference


School of Communications faculty member Nancy Engelhardt presented her research on the history of the development of federal guidelines for environmental claims on product labels at the International, Interdisciplinary Public Relations Conference held in Miami, March 20-23.

"Green Labeling and Consumer Products: A History of Policy, Regulation and Usage, 1990-2000," traces the development of federal eco-labeling regulations, from the recommendations laid out by the Attorneys General Task Force in their Green Reports to the current FTC guidelines.

The research focuses on governmental agencies that were involved in regulating the use of these labels, non-governmental organizations that were vocal about the use of eco-labels, and industry groups that played a major role in the establishment of environmental labeling policy.

As environmental claims grew during the 1990s, so did the use of vague and misleading claims to entice consumers. This misrepresentation of claims created skepticism by consumers and frustration for environmental organizations, governments, and marketers and led to the eventual actions by the federal government to provide guidance.

"Although only a small number of cases have been brought by the FTC since the early 1990s, the guides are considered effective in limiting the use of misleading claims," Engelhardt said. "Because the guides promote open trade and do not strictly regulate labeling claims, the FTC guides have been hailed as the standard for international trade labeling claims as the FTC worked closely with international organizations in the development of international standards."

Engelhardt is an assistant professor of communications, and was senior communications officer for World Wildlife Fund, headquartered in Washington, D.C., previous to her arrival at Elon University in the fall of 2002.



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