OPINION: FDA Bucks Scientific Evidence of BPA's Toxicity

By State Senator Roy Dyson (D-29th)

In direct contradiction to overwhelming scientific evidence, the federal Food and Drug Administration has declared Bisphonel A (BPA) products as safe.

BPA, a common plastic additive is a key component found in food can containers, baby bottles, dental sealants, children's toys and plastic utensils, such as children's "sippy" cups. Human contact with BPA is nearly unavoidable.

BPA, developed in 1891 as a synthetic form of estrogen, did not come into wide usage until the 1950s. The additive began to be used to make polycarbonate plastic, epoxy resins to line food and beverage cans.

Dozens of scientific studies have revealed that BPA, which mimics the female hormone estrogen, is linked to birth defects in boys, heart disease in adults, lower sperm counts, diabetes, hyperactivity, miscarriage and breast cancer in animals.

Last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviewed 258 scientific studies of BPA. The overwhelming number of studies showed BPA is harmful to human life and health. It is worth noting that the only studies that found BPA safe were those paid for by the chemical industry.

In October, the scientific studies indicating BPA's harmful effects led Canada to add BPA to its list of toxic chemicals and ban its use, particularly in baby bottles. Tagging BPA as a hazardous and dangerous substance, Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement said the chemical is particularly dangerous to newborns and infants. He cited concerns that the chemical in polycarbonate products and epoxy linings in cans migrate into food and beverages. Canada now restricts the importation, sale and advertising of bottlers made with BPA.

The results of scientific analyses revealing the dangers of BPA have been conveyed to the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The analysis was commissioned by the advocacy group Antidote Europe.

Because human contact with BPA products is universal, and it is only in recent years, that BPA has been revealed as dangerous to human life and health, scientists note that BPA can be found in the urine of 93% of Americans. Children and infants are most at risk because they cannot metabolize and excrete the chemical as quickly as adults and older children.

In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA), leaning heavily on the chemical industry's scientific evidence, released a draft assessment August 15, 2008 declaring the safety of BPA in food contact products, such as baby bottles, water bottles and food containers. In response to the FDA's assessment, Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, said, "You cannot tell parents with a straight face that BPA is safe." Yet, that is exactly what the FDA has done.

The National Institutes of Health recently expressed "some concern:" over the effects of the chemical on a baby's brain and reproductive system. Disregarding the FDA assessment, many businesses have chosen to rely on the overwhelming scientific evidence that BPA is toxic and have pulled plastic products containing BPA from their shelves. Those businesses include: CVS, Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart and Safeway.

It looks like the FDA stands alone, refusing to acknowledge that BPA is a toxic chemical and is a danger to human beings. I am hopeful that a new federal administration and a new congress will be moved by common sense and ban BPA products, something the FDA should have already done.

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