As we have noted in previous issues of Pulse of Health Freedom, national attention is heating up over the issue of the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a common ingredient in some plastics. Studies have linked BPA to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, reproductive damage, and hyperactivity. And a study released last fall found that it interferes with chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.
Leaders from the House of Representatives and the Senate have just announced legislation to establish a federal ban on bisphenol A in all food and beverage containers. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plan to introduce bills that will greatly expand efforts to limit use of the chemical in products for babies and children.
Their announcement came one day after Sunoco, the gas and chemical giant, sent word to investors that it was now refusing to sell BPA to companies for use in food and water containers for children younger than three years of age. And six baby bottle manufacturers, including Playtex and Gerber, also announced that they would stop using BPA.
The new bills are not perfect. They would immediately outlaw the sale of all food and drink containers made with BPA, and anything on store shelves would have to be removed. But while it would also suspend the manufacture of food packaged in containers that contain the chemical, items already made may continue to be sold. On top of that, the bills allow manufacturers to get waivers from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a full year if they can show there is no technology available to make a particular food or beverage container without the use of BPA.
Scientists and environmentalists praised the new legislation as an acknowledgment of the chemical’s danger, but some worried that more needs to be done to study how humans are exposed to the chemical.
“It may represent just the tip of a much larger iceberg,” said Pat Hunt, a Washington State University professor whose work led to the discovery of the effects of BPA on animals more than ten years ago. “Recent work suggests that contaminated food and beverages alone aren’t sufficient to account for the levels reported in human blood.”
BPA is used in thousands of household products, including baby bottles, eyeglasses, dental items, and CDs. It has been detected in nearly all Americans tested. Originally developed as an estrogen replacement, BPA is widely used to line metal cans.
Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, noted, “This is a chemical so powerful it can cross the placenta and negatively affect the developing fetus. Retailers are getting the message; manufacturers are moving toward safer production. Scientists across the board are saying we have enough evidence of harm to act.”
The American Chemistry Council, the trade group that represents chemical makers, continues to maintain that the chemical is safe. The FDA also says BPA is safe for use based on the findings of two studies, both of which were paid for by the chemical industry. In fact, entire sections of the FDA opinion were written by chemical makers and those with a financial stake in BPA.
However, FDA’s own scientific advisory board has challenged claim of safety, saying the agency needs to consider more than two studies. Of the 258 scientific studies of BPA published to date, an overwhelming majority of them show the chemical is harmful—causing breast cancer, testicular cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, low sperm counts, miscarriage, and a host of other reproductive failures in laboratory animals.
Fred vom Saal, a University of Missouri scientist who is considered the leading expert on the chemical, said the action in Congress underscored the FDA’s failure to do its job. “I think the public should be grateful that people in Congress are paying attention,” he said. “It suggests that serious reform of the FDA is called for. Clearly, they are ignoring the science.”
As you know, AAHF has been spearheading the move to reform the FDA from top to bottom. Please join the campaign, or read more about it, at www.ReformFDA.org.