10/01/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

FDA Again Relies on Industry to Judge Safety of Plastic Contaminant BPA

As I wrote three months ago, the Bush administration has lost any shame, in its lame-duck days, about relying on industry to demonstrate the safety of potential environmental toxins.

In this case, the chemical under suspicion is bisphenol A, or BPA, found in baby bottles, and in the liners inside many food and beverage cans, to prevent the contents from tasting metallic.

Numerous animal studies show that BPA is hazardous and can cause birth defects. Its effect on humans is unclear, but we know enough from animals to be worried -- and to demand caution. The American Plastics Council dismisses the concern.

In May, the FDA had issued a report saying BPA was safe. The report relied entirely on two industry-funded studies. And FDA had no shame-- in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), it made no attempt to hide its reliance on industry.

The FDA now says again, in a report slipped out quietly earlier this month, that BPA is safe. And once again it relies on the same two studies--both sponsored by the plastics industry.

The plastics industry of course could lose millions of dollars, perhaps billions, if BPA is found to be unsafe.

But I trust 'em to give us the honest truth. Don't you?

A subcommittee of the FDA's science board will meet to discuss BPA on Sep. 16 at the Hilton Washington WashingtonDC/Rockville Executive Meeting Center, at 1750 Rockville Pike in Rockville. If you'd like to engage this debate, that's the place to be.