National Public Radio presidential debate

NORRIS: Karen Zuch there. She's from Santa Cruz, California. She's pointing out that the European Union has stricter standards. But if you look at the Chinese recalls in this country, they still represent fewer than 1/100th of all of the toys and products that come into this country. Is it possible that the U.S. could overreact to this?

I'm posing this to Senator Clinton. What's the danger of that?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, first, I really sympathize with the young mother, because we don't do anywhere near enough to try to prevent dangerous materials and products from coming into our country. We don't even do enough of it within our own country. We have totally turned our back on the information that is available to try to better track the impact on children and others of these kinds of exposures to toxic materials.

So, number one, we need tougher standards across the board, something I've been advocating for for years. Number two, it should be especially applied to any kind of imports, and that requires going and making sure that we have inspectors on the ground and we have tough standards and we exercise recalls.

You know, the reason we have such few recalls, even though they have been increasing because the evidence has been so overwhelming, is because this administration has basically defanged the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They do not have any real appetite for going after these companies and countries that are flooding our markets with dangerous products, and that has to stop.

NORRIS: We only have just a few — very short time, Senator Dodd. But I just want to ask you, because you've served in the Senate for some time, given the concerns about currency manipulation, product recalls, is there any vote that you would look back at and think, "You know, I really wish I could reconsider that"?

SEN. DODD: No, no, I wish the Senate would have reconsidered when I offered legislation on lead paint, for instance, here to try and reduce the kind of problems that Karen has talked about.

I have a child that has serious food allergies. I know what it's like every day to read a label — every single day — because my child could die if she consumed the wrong products here. Eighty percent of the food we consume in this country is imported and only 1% of it is inspected. And there's no country of labeling on the products here, and you'll have about 10 different descriptions of an egg here. And that's very difficult, if not impossible, for women like Karen and parents who have children who have to be careful about the products they consume.

NORRIS: Okay. We're going to have to leave this part of our discussion right there. We'll take a break for just a few minutes, then we will continue with the second hour of our Democratic presidential debate from Des Moines. This is special coverage from NPR News.



INSKEEP: From NPR News and Iowa Public Radio, this is the second hour of our Democratic presidential candidates debate from Des Moines. I'm Steve Inskeep.

SIEGEL: I'm Robert Siegel.

NORRIS: And I'm Michele Norris.

INSKEEP: We are at the Iowa State Historical Museum, near the State Capitol Building. And with us are seven of the Democratic candidates. From left to right on your radio dial, they are Senator Hillary Clinton, former Senator Mike Gravel, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Christopher Dodd, Senator Joseph Biden, former Senator John Edwards and Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

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