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Mattel lobbies to regulate itself

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hacker BarbieIf I had a daughter, she would not be playing with Barbies. Besides the fact that I would want her to have different ideas of womanhood than Barbie present, I would be a afraid for her health!

Barbie, American Girl, Batman, Diva Starz, Jack-in-the-box, the Lion King, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Mulan and Simpsons, among other toys, are made by Mattel, the world's largest toy company. Mattel's revenue is above $5 billion and their toys are sold all around the world.

Besides being sold all around the world, they are being recalled: so far, around 14 million toys have been moved off the store shelves because they contained lead paint.

An exclusive Chicago Tribune investigation reveals that because of Mattel's lobbying efforts, some companies will be allowed to do their own in house testing for safety. According to the article:

Toymaker Mattel Inc. argued to lawmakers that it should be allowed to use its own labs to conduct these certification tests, which were supposed to be a hallmark of Congress' efforts to overhaul the nation's product-safety system. The House and Senate added provisions permitting companies with sophisticated labs to avoid the independent testing requirement by winning federal approval for their in-house testing facilities.

Consumer advocates and some lawmakers worry that this creates a conflict of interest and could compromise safety.

"Companies that are going to do testing, obviously they have a vested interest in the outcome of the test," said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who tried unsuccessfully to amend the Senate bill to mandate that only independent labs be used. "From the standpoint of a consumer, there's much more credibility to independent testing."

The toy industry is not the only one with that lacks health protective regulations. What we need is a better system of protections mandated by the federal government. Until that happens, Mattel and similar companies will continue to receive international "awards" such as the International Bad Product Award. And you, the parent, just need to add "watch out for toxic chemicals" to your parenting to do list. A good resource to start is www.parents.com.

Photo: Hacker Barbie by Nic221.