Bisphenol-A (BPA), the endocrine disrupting chemical found in baby bottles and canned food, has been getting a lot of bad press over the past year. It's really no surprise given the growing list of studies linking it to health impacts ranging from cognitive problems and early puberty to increased fat cell production and miscarriage.
Industry thinks they're getting a bad rap. They think it's unfair that everyone keeps focusing on these studies and not the ones they funded that show no health impacts. Aww. Poor industry. Always getting picked on by the little guys.
They're not going to take it anymore though, and they formed a new club they're calling the BPA Joint Trade Association. In a meeting last week, they decided it would be awesome if they could get a pregnant woman to travel the country eating and drinking from packages and containers that had BPA in them and touting its safety with a big, nurturing smile. That'll show those doubters -- all those toxicologists, public health groups and parents poo-pooing BPA. If a pregnant woman paid by industry happily ingests this chemical, it must be safe. (But, they would make her sign a waiver releasing industry from any liability in case her fetus suffers any birth defects or other health impacts. Yep, best to not be liable for the experiment.)
Seriously. This is what they're stooping to.
Another brilliant idea to come out of that meeting is a scare tactic used last summer in California in order to stop a ban on BPA being reviewed by the legislature. The American Chemistry Council mailed flyers to people's homes claiming "Soon, many common, everyday products could disappear from grocery store shelves across California," and "Your favorite Products May Soon Disappear."
Yep. I guess all that will be left on the shelves at the grocery store will be the foods that are fresh or frozen or in boxes or jars or safer plastics -- oh, and cans that don't use BPA in their lining -- like Eden foods. According to Eden, (who's still working on finding a replacement for lining cans of acidic foods like tomatoes) it costs the company 2 cents more per can to make them BPA-free.
Seriously? They're putting up this big of a fight over 2 cents a can?
The end is near, BPA industry, best put your money into R&D for a safer alternative instead of poorly thought out marketing plans. Major retailers have been pulling your products from their shelves. Consumers are refusing to buy them. New Jersey, Minnesota, and Chicago have passed BPA bans. Connecticut, California, and even Congress are considering BPA bans. It may be time to throw in the towel.
Those BPA proponents are pretty stubborn though. The California State Senate passed the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act on June 2, which will ban BPA from food and drink containers for children under three. Now it moves to the Assembly and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, recently revealed e-mails from the BPA Joint Trade Association outlined its strategy to deploy lobbyists in Sacramento for "befriending people that are able to manipulate the legislative process."
In response to all of this questionable activity, the House of Representatives Committee of Energy and Commerce, which has been investigating the safety of BPA, issued a letter to the Chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA -- a core member of the BPA Joint Trade Association). They would like to know exactly what's been said and what's being planned and have requested all of the documents, minutes, emails and communications relating to meetings of the BPA Joint Trade Association, a list of all attendees at meetings, and a list of all members of the BPA Joint Trade Association.
Simultaneously, they wrote FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking the agency to examine its relationship with industry groups. What relationship with industry you ask? The one that prompted the FDA to rely on 2 industry reports instead of 153 independent studies in order to assess the safety of BPA. They also want the FDA to reconsider its assessment that the chemical is safe. And, surprise, instead of dragging it's feet like so many times during the Bush years, the FDA quickly replied that they would re-assess BPA and that they would get it done ASAP. As in weeks, instead of months.
The times they are a-changing. But, the BPA battle is not over yet.
If you live in California, contact your state representatives and urge them to support the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act.
If your congressional representative is on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, contact him or her with your support in the effort to investigate the safety of BPA. Also, urge them to support the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009.
You can also give big business a piece of your mind. Visit the Environmental Working Group to find phone numbers and a sample script for when you call.
And, if you're a pregnant woman looking for a job, don't answer the BPA want-ad.
Follow Christopher Gavigan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/healthy_child