More Baby Bottle Fears

A story published in the Washington Post on April 26th confirmed what I had posted in THIS entry a few weeks ago, that bisphenol A (BPA) may be more of a threat to our health than the government will admit.

BPA is a chemical used to manufacture several plastic products ranging from baby bottles to eyeglasses. For years, several studies have shown that the chemical can have a variety of negative health impacts like breast cancer, prostate cancer, reproductive health problems and behavior disorders on laboratory rats.

From 1997 - 2005, 116 studies were conducted to uncover possible health issues associated with BPA. Many of these studies specifically focused on the impact even a small amount of BPA exposure could cause. Of these 116 studies conducted by objective government scientists, 90% showed a negative health effect associated with exposure to BPA.

The question posed in the Washington Post story is this: If 90% of government studies show a link between health disorders and exposure to BPA, why does the FDA approve of BPA's inclusion in consumer products like baby bottles?"

The answer is that the FDA doesn't rely on objective government studies for its regulatory decision-making. Instead, it relies on the industry's studies. The same industry that gains monetarily by continuing to include BPA in its products is providing research results for the FDA.
This odd relationship between a federal regulatory agency, and the industries it is required to regulate, is not unusual. According to David Michaels a former regulator in the Clinton administration, this type of relationship is the same used by the tobacco industry to slow regulation of its products.

"If you fight the science, you're able to postpone regulation and victim compensation, as well. As in this case, eventually the science becomes overwhelming. But if you can get five or 10 years of avoiding pollution control or production of chemicals, you've greatly increased your product."

Of course the industry and the FDA see the situation differently. The industry defends its studies and says they uphold the highest standards when investigating their products. The FDA says its the responsibility of the industry to prove the products are safe and that the agency provides instructions on the way these studies are carried out.

What is interesting, however, is that of all the industry-funded studies released, none show any connection between BPA and negative health effects. In addition, these industries have hired very powerful lobbying/PR/law firms to manage any fallout associated with their unusual relationships with the FDA. The Weinberg Group is a firm that has its own scientists and lawyers and has represented corporations who produce Agent Orange, tobacco and teflon. They are currently representing plastics manufacturers who use BPA and have used strong-arm tactics to influence federal agencies in the past.

This controversial situation hasn't been ignored by Congress. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) has requested documents from the Weinberg Group that show their intervention with federal government decision-making. After information was unearthed that industry research groups in Virginia were covering up facts that showed BPA could cause cancer or premature puberty, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) launched investigations that ended contracts between the feds and these groups.

If you'd like to read the full Post article, click HERE.

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