Safety is a bipartisan issue
By Consumers Union on Monday, October 29th, 2007
According to last week’s International Herald Tribune:
Representative Michael Burgess, a Republican, won his Texas seat five years ago as a free-trade proponent and has been a reliable vote for each of the seven market-opening agreements sent to Congress since then.
No more. When U.S. companies this year recalled millions of Chinese-made toys and a local news station reported that imported flip-flops caused painful foot rashes, Burgess changed his stance.
“In my household, if it’s made in China, it does not come home,” Burgess, a 56-year-old lawmaker, told Mattel’s chief executive, Robert Eckert at a recent hearing.
“It’s one thing to talk about free trade,” Burgess said in an interview. “It’s a whole different issue when it comes to safety.”
No matter where you fall on the free trade spectrum, you want to know that the toys your toddlers slobber over are free of lead. And I’m betting it wouldn’t be enough just to label the toys as “made with lead” and let the market decide.
Senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat who voted against his party and for the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005, has offered some solutions that other lawmakers are getting behind. His bill would require independent safety inspections of all imported toys, allow all 50 U.S. state attorneys general to enforce product-safety laws, increase penalties for selling unsafe products, and give you more information that companies have about the safety of their products.
We’ll keep you up to date as this good proposal moves through the process.