Thursday, November 08, 2007

Today in Bathtub Government: Connecting the Aquadots

Good grief, I take a week off to move house, and all hell breaks loose in the world of imported toys, imported describing most if not all of the toys you'll find on store shelves.

I was going to attempt a gradual re-entry tomorrow, but after reading about the little plastic art-toy dots that turn into a potentially lethal date rape drug when swallowed, I thought, I can stand by no longer.

If you'll indulge me, let's go back a few days. It came to my attention that Consumer Product Safety Commission chairwoman Nancy Nord is in trouble, this time for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars worth of free trips from the very industries her agency is supposed to regulate.

I wrote about the CPSC and Ms. Nord recently; so did Weboy, who said:

Well, Nancy Nord is the Acting Head of the CPSC because the head of the CPSC resigned rather abruptly summer a year ago and Bush has done nothing to replace him (the CPSC has a three person directorate; with the party of the President essentially controlling the majority) since March, when he tried to appoint the former head of The National Association of Manufacturers (you know, people who might not like the CPSC) in his place. And why did the last guy resign, you ask? Oh, you know... to go work for a law firm that advises clients on how to... you know, avoid having to deal with the CPSC.

Now we hear that a popular Chinese-made art toy called Aquadots that made it into stores and homes all over the country--apparently escaping notice by the CPSC--is seriously poisonous:

The problem is scientists said the beads contain a chemical that the human body metabolizes into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound made from common and easily available ingredients can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Think the two stories are related?

No budget for testing; a chairwoman seemingly under some sort of directive to refrain from asking Congress for money to hire more inspectors and testing personnel; the same chairwoman accepting gifts from the industry she's supposed to be policing and holding accountable. The only surprising thing is that worse and more widespread incidents have not occurred--certainly there's little standing in the way of this ceaseless flood of cheap and toxic imports. The problem isn't new. I've been writing about it for over nine months now, and I wasn't the first to do so, either.

Yesterday, The President outlined what has been done to address the problem thus far:

Last year the United States imported nearly $2 trillion of goods through more than 825,000 importers -- and the vast majority of these imports are safe. Unfortunately, in recent months Americans have seen imports from toys to toothpaste to pet food recalled because of safety concerns. My administration takes this problem seriously. So in July, I issued an executive order establishing the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety. I asked this group to review the problem, and to make recommendations for actions that we can take to address it.

In September, this working group issued a report recommending that we change our strategy to ensure the safety of our imports.

Recommending that we change our strategy to ensure the safety of our imports.


No comments:

Post a Comment