Sunday, February 17, 2008


Wed., 2/6/08, From Jim Hightower's Lowdown

"Made in China" has become a warning label. Look out toxics in toothpaste, arsenic in shrimp, lead in toys!

The shocker is not that Chinese-made toys are laden with lead, but that America's Consumer Product Safety Commission employs exactly one inspector to oversee the safety of all toys sold in the U.S. Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration has licensed 714 Chinese plants to manufacture the key ingredients for a growing percentage of the antibiotics, painkillers, and other drugs we buy, but provides practically no oversight of these plants.

An even bigger shock is that our consumer-protection laws are so riddled with loopholes that unsafe products can legally come into our country. Take phthalates, chemical additives in plastics that are suspected by scientists here and in Europe of inhibiting testosterone production in infant boys. Yet, Mark Shapiro, author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, reports that while the European Union has banned the use of phthalates in products for children under three years of age, our government has refused to act.

Thus, China has factories that manufacture two lines of toys one without phthalates for European countries, and one with phthalates for export to our children.

The problem is not with the Chinese, but with our own corporate chieftains. They've moved their manufacturing to China specifically to get these kinds of low-cost shortcuts in production, while simultaneously demanding that Washington cut back on regulations that protect us consumers."

Europeans responded to a growing body of evidence suggesting that a plastic additive called phthalates may contribute to decreased production of testosterone in infant boys by banning the substance from use in products aimed at children under the age of three. Much of the evidence used by the Europeans to make that decision came from American scientists, some of whom have been supported in their research by our own EPA. But there has been no one in the US government willing to listen. The result: toys are manufactured in China without phthalates for export to the European Union, and with phthalates for export to the United States. European manufacturers have found far less toxic alternatives and European kids have as many plastic animals and other goofy playthings as their American counterparts.

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