Double Standards: Consumer and Worker Protection in an Unequal World


48 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-921942-05-2
DDC 341.7'5




Reviewed by Greg Turko

Greg Turko is a policy analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and


Kerton’s book details a number of incidents—such as the
breast-milk-substitute controversy and the Bhopal toxic-gas leak—to
illustrate these international inequities. In particular, he focuses on
the issues of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals, such as
pesticides, that are banned in the developed world—even though many
such substances are manufactured there—but are sold freely in the
developing world. He also deals with environmental issues, such as using
Third World nations as industrial waste disposal sites.

The human suffering and cost caused by these policies is enormous and
the potential political and environmental impact on the whole world
could be devastating. The reasons for these practices—including the
blind quest for profits, greed, corruption, and inadequate resources for
policing and testing—are, however, familiar to anyone who has any
knowledge of developed/developing nation issues.

Kerton describes a number of successful operating models that could
resolve the problems he outlines. In addition, he makes a compelling
case for further action to reduce, if not eliminate, these inequities.
There are also reasons to be cautious, though he does not deal with this
aspect explicitly in the pamphlet. Some developing nations see some of
these “international standards” as simply another instance of the
developed world seeking to impose its will on less economically advanced
nations (the international cfc debate sometimes has these overtones). It
is also possible to see parallels between the fervor and intent of some
of the legal and environmental arguments being advanced on behalf of
developing nations and the zeal and intent of nineteenth-century


Kerton, Robert R., “Double Standards: Consumer and Worker Protection in an Unequal World,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,