Toxic Enactments: Materializing Estrogen and Regulation Under Canada's Food and Drugs Act, 1939-1953
Tessaro, Lara Jessie
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The study describes how estrogen was standardized in Canada, in the 1940s and early 1950s, under the Food and Drugs Act. Contributing to interdisciplinary conversations, it provides an empirical case of how regulatory practices enact material realities. Using archival material, the study describes how estrogen was achieved, in part, through heterogeneous practices of the Canadian Committee on Pharmacopoeial Standards, National Health, and government solicitors. These regulators disagreed on whether, how, and by whom estrogens should be standardized. Rather than resolve these disagreements, Canada enacted multiple regulations purporting to standardize estrogen, and government solicitors practiced techniques of validating to render the regulations as lawful. I argue that these regulatory enactments materialized estrogen as a potent, unpredictable, and multiple object. Further, I show how estrogen spawned novel regulatory techniques in Canada, particularly the use of consumer product labels. In this way, estrogen catalyzed an early example of risk regulation in Canada.