FDA Tries to Wiggle Out of BPA Problem with Doublespeak and a Partial Ban

July 24, 2012
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BPAEven this limited action is taken only at industry request.

The US Food and Drug Administration has amended food additive rules to “no longer provide for the use” of BPA (bisphenol-A) in infant bottles and children’s sippy cups. BPA is a common ingredient in polycarbonate plastics and, as regular Pulse readers know, an endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been linked with serious health problems, including cancer, birth defects, and heart disease. China banned BPA in baby bottles last year; the European Union banned it two years ago, and Canada declared BPA to be a toxic substance.

What the FDA is doing is indirectly banning the substance in this one application, without having to say so explicitly or even take a strong position on the subject! Moreover, FDA is being careful not to make any statement on BPA’s safety. All of this came in response to a request from the American Chemistry Council, which is seeking to even the playing field of their producers’ market share.

What does this mean? We think this means that some producers are complaining about the cost of using substitute ingredients because of a consumer backlash against BPA, and no longer want their competitors to be able to use it.

We and others in the nonprofit world have been working on the BPA issue for years. It is not at all surprising that we actually got what we wanted, after numerous rejections from FDA—but only because industry eventually joined our side for profit reasons. Is there nothing FDA won’t do for them? Big Business says, “Jump!” and FDA asks, “How high?”

BPA is not a substance that is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). So several years ago, companies had to seek FDA approval to use BPA, and FDA put it on the official list of approved food additives. Now FDA has amended that list “to no longer provide for the use of polycarbonate (PC) resins in infant feeding bottles (baby bottles) and spill-proof cups, including their closures and lids, designed to help train babies and toddlers to drink from cups (sippy cups) because these uses have been abandoned” by industry, so baby bottles and cups using BPA-laced polycarbonate will be considered adulterated if they contain BPA.

Another factor behind the industry’s change of heart is the slew of state bills that have been introduced and passed banning the use of BPA. In fact, eleven states so far have banned BPA in children’s products.

Furthermore, if the ACC is petitioning for the removal of BPA, it is worrying to think about what they are using in its place—since, as we noted a few weeks ago, many products that now boast they’re “BPA-free” have simply switched to a BPA relative that may be equally toxic!

FDA’s ban on BPA in baby products is another blessing for the chemical industry: it mitigates the urgency of banning BPA in other products. Because the petition was based on an assertion of “abandonment,” FDA did not request comments on the safety of the use of polycarbonate (PC) resins, which use BPA in their manufacturing process: “Such safety information is not relevant to abandonment and, therefore, any comments addressing the safety of PC resins were not considered in the Agency’s evaluation of this petition.” How convenient! By sidestepping the issue of safety, FDA is protecting the chemical industry’s stake in using BPA in other applications—or liability for past use in baby products.

While we are pleased that infants will no longer be exposed to BPA in their bottles and cups, we would argue that this ban doesn’t go nearly far enough. FDA is not considering other things that children can put in their mouths, such as pacifiers, teethers, tableware, or items that may come in contact with breast milk, such as breast pumps, pumping supplies, or breast milk storage kits—not to mention children’s dental sealants, fillings, and dental devices.

BPA should banned in all products, though the government has been deaf to its citizens’ requests:

  • ANH-USA filed a petition with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban BPA in thermal cash register receipts, the principal means by which BPA appears to enter mothers’ bodies. Our petition was denied. We still have a request pending with OSHA.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition with FDA to have BPA banned from food and beverage containers (most tin cans are lined with BPA). After the request was left hanging in limbo for three years, NRDC filed a lawsuit to force a response. FDA finally ruled against the petition.
  • Even Rep. Ed Markey petitioned FDA to ban BPA, though FDA has yet to respond.

A recent study indicates that BPA may affect memory and alter brain structure in adults. Another study shows that BPA’s estrogenic effects can encourage insulin release, which promotes diabetes.

It is clear from what has just happened that the only way BPA will be removed from other products is for consumers to refuse to buy them. The FDA couldn’t care less.

15 Responses to “FDA Tries to Wiggle Out of BPA Problem with Doublespeak and a Partial Ban”

  1. Glenn Ross says:

    Who is running the FDA? I keep hearing about the FDA refusing to perform thorough tests on products or they’re cutting corners in their testing OR they just take the industry test results as VALID! Yes I am yelling, the FDA appears to be just as bad as the mining, oil, and banking regulation.

    The regulators are more concerned with their next election and payments from the industry they are regulating. There is no longer any real regulation of ANYTHING in this country. Where is common sense, common good for the community? For HUMANITY? What happened to at least attempting to do a good job, a good service for the community?

    The bankers should have been arrested and jailed FOR FRAUD, GRAND theft, manslaughter just to start with. And spend the rest of their natural lives in jail paying back the US Treasury and the homeowners that had their homes and jobs RIPPED OUT OF THEIR HANDS! These jerks even setup and ripped off county and municipal government agencies and strapped them with balloon payments and very predatory terms.

    The mining managers should be in prison for at very least Man-slaughter.

    Dow, Monsanto and any other company related should cease ALL production and START PROVING their products are health friendly and really contribute to a better product, NOT CORPORATE PROFITS! Their acts are harming many many people and probably killing a few along the way as well, this the corporate AMERICAN WAY! THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

       6 likes

  2. Chris Camera says:

    We the People decree that any government officials herefore connected to approving GMO foods such as the new Frankenapples, either knowingly through bribes, campaign contributions, or other quid pro quo benefits, will be forced to have them and their families be given only GMO food to eat, as we will conduct an experiment to see how well they do. They we will do the same with all the employees of Monsanto, Dow, and the investors who are supporting this DNA destroying, population destroying stealth poisons.

       1 likes

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for providing this information. Unfortunately a large number of people still think that “FDA approved” means it’s safe.

       3 likes

  4. Jean Newbold says:

    I am convinced we need an FDA, just not the one we have. It is very clear that the FDA execs are bought and paid for by the corporations it’s supposed to be supervising. If I thought that we could do any better with a new crew, I’d say turn them all out, but the built-in cronyism in Washington can only guarantee the same results. If the FDA fires its own researchers for doing their job as it should be done, there is no hope!

       1 likes

  5. baldmurph says:

    In the market, demand rules. We tried morality lectures and government fiat, but Prohibition was a bust and alcohol came back after helping criminal types get rich. BPA should be easier to raise universal disdain for than alcohol since we are arguing our babies’ health rather than our personal tastes in relaxation, and where the line is between modest (good for your health) and excess (effects more bad than good). If no one will buy it, it will disappear from the market – - but WE have to become conscious and act.

       1 likes

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Going after FDA chemical by chemical does not seem effective. The FDA has to be held accountable for actions not consistent with public safety. In such matters industry concerns are irrelevant. The entire class of compounds should be banned for all uses that could contaminate anything that people or animals ingest until all are proved to be safe. This may seem extreme but it is the only way to avoid a never ending action with the FDA.

       1 likes

  7. Robert Ross says:

    It’s toxic. Get rid of it in ALL applications. It shouldn’t even be manufactured at all. Clean it up, shut it down, and outlaw it.

       1 likes

  8. Bob says:

    Once again, the moral relativists who have risen to the top find no place for the truth and protecting their fellow human beings when it might impact them financially.

       1 likes

  9. Chris C says:

    Unfortunately our government is on the side of industry in it’s ‘Soylent Greenistic’ methods of satisfying their ‘insatiable hunger’ for profits.

       1 likes

  10. JK says:

    Ban PBA! We don’t need any more toxic stuff in our food.

       1 likes

  11. B. Talbert says:

    WE need a total ban on BPA and the FDA is not reflecting the wishes of the people who support it. If they wish to be supported by the big chemical companies we need to demote it to what it is–a private lobbying agency.

       1 likes

  12. dodie Humphrey says:

    I TRIED TOSEND THE EMAIL SAYING TO STOP GMO-ING OUR APPLES, i NEVER DID GET THE MESSAGE SENT OUT TO THE AGENCY, BECAUSE MY PASSWORD OR EMAIL ADDRESS WAS NOT BEING ACCEPTED AS CORRECT. MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO REACH ANYONE AND GET THINGS DONE. Ruby Vencill

       1 likes

  13. Thomas Durst says:

    I think BPA should be banned in every product made in the United States period, not to be replaced by a similar toxic product. Don’t you think we have more toxic products in this country already. Seems it is always about profits instead of the health of the American people. Our lclueless leaders wonder why healthcare costs are soaring. It is partly because of all the chemicals we are exposed to. Don’t you people have children or grandchildren that you are concerned about with all the poisons you are introducing to the people of this country?

    Regards ….. Thomas Durst

       1 likes

  14. Suzanne says:

    It’s even in TP and PT (paper towels), napkins (ones for using at meals and sanitary also). Many companies are stopping BPA but now are using BPS which is supposed to be worse. We have to make everything BPA and BPS free and find something better to use.

       1 likes

  15. Arroyowash says:

    According to a new study published in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology,” bisphenol S (BPS), the chemical now substituted in many “BPA-free” products, may be more harmful. The study found BPS is capable of absorbing into the skin at a rate up to 1900 percent higher than BPA, which makes it potentially much more harmful than BPA at altering hormone levels. Other studies have shown that BPS is far less biodegradable than BPA, and is actually the most persistent bisphenol compound among eight of the most common bisphenol compounds tested.

    Bisphenols are part of a broad family of chemicals, each with different properties but all potentially dangerous to humans. Bisphenol AF is used in electronic devices, optical fibers, etc., and studies show it to be an even more potent endocrine disrupter than BPA. Bisphenol B and F are also frequently substituted for BPA. Bisphenol B is potentially more potent than BPA in stimulating breast cancer cells.

    Science Daily, July 11

       1 likes

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