I have a site, in which I do basically the same thing (with the manufacturers’ description). What I do with them though is:
1. List the description, as it comes from the manufacturer
2. Run the same description thru Systran Pro 5 (translation software), so I can use the description in say Spanish, German and French (depends on the products sometimes). Then have the different language sections on the same page (so long as the descriptions aren't too long to begin with).
Doing things this way has several benefits.
It keeps with my personal philosophy of making my sites valuable to as many different types of people as possible (many visitors, even from within the US, would prefer to view information in their native language, even if they are fluent in English).
The SEO benefit from this is that, even though there may be a translation on the manufacturers' website, Systran Pro (although one of the best packages available) is not entirely fluent. So the resulting translation, although accurate enough, will generally not be exact. So the resulting content won't be the same. The more varied content you add to the page (where your manufacturers' description is located), the less your chances are of getting hit with the dupe content issue.
Not sure if others agree, but this methodology has always yielded very good results for me, even in times like now, with the Google situation being so screwed up.