Just take a look at this San Francisco Chronicle headline:

EPA rule loopholes allow pesticide testing on kids

That’s right — if this story is to be believed, the EPA has created a loophole that would allow the pesticide industry to test whether its wares are safe by using real, live kids.  

But astonishingly, the real story is actually even uglier than that. According to the Chronicle, the EPA rules — allegedly designed to protect kids and pregnant women — specifically allow testing on “children who have been abused and neglected.” Just read:

[W]ithin the 30 pages of rules are clear-cut exceptions that permit:

— Testing of “abused or neglected” children without permission from parents or guardians.

— “Ethically deficient” human research if it is considered crucial to “protect public health.”

— More than minimal health risk to a subject if there is a “direct benefit” to the child being tested, and the parents or guardians agree.

Read the story — I’m not making this up. That said, I am waiting on further reports before I pass judgment. I may just be in denial, the abused-child exemption so seriously screwed up that it could well be a mistake — perhaps a reporter’s error, or a last-minute and easily reversible screwup in the rulemaking process. EPA spokesdroids seem to suggest that suspension of ordinary testing rules is designed to give abused kids extra protection.

In a written response, officials said that abused and neglected children were specifically singled out to create “additional protection” for them, although they did not elaborate.

God, I hope there’s some truth to that. I mean, what this story suggests is so screamingly immoral that even this administration would find this repulsive.

Right? Right???