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Let Them Eat Rat Poison

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"Let Them Eat Rat Poison"

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A federal judge this week rebuked Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect kids from rat poison exposure.

The background:

In August 1998, the Clinton administration okayed the use of rat poison, which many kids mistake for candy, only “as long as manufacturers added a bittering agent and a dye that made it more obvious if a child ingested the poison.” As soon as George Bush took the White House, his EPA rolled back the requirements, saying it was up to chemical manufacturers whether or not they wanted to add dyes or bittering agents. U .S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled wrote that the agency couldn’t justify the rollback, saying, “In short, the EPA lacked even the proverbial ‘scintilla of evidence’ justifying its reversal of the requirement it had imposed, after extensive study, only a few years before.”

It’s not the first time the Bush administration put American children at risk.

In 2003, the administration’s Consumer Product Safety Commission voted not to ban wood treated with the poison arsenic in playground equipment.

Then last year, the EPA used camcorders to bribe parents into offering up their toddlers as guinea pigs for a study about the dangers of pesticides on children. The study was paid for in part by the chemical industry.

What did these little kids ever do to deserve being poisoned?

Rat poison accidents disproportionately involve African American and Latino children. According to the EPA, “57 percent of children hospitalized in New York state for ingesting rodenticide from 1990 to 1997 were black, while only 16 percent of the state’s population is African American. Twenty-six percent were Latino, although Latinos make up just 12 percent of the state’s overall population.”

Rich kids are more likely to have fancy plastic playground furniture and their parents probably already have camcorders. And most live far from rat-infested apartment buildings.

This White House has decided big chemical corporations should get more protection than our kids do. That’s a poisonous way to lead.

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