According to a court settlement recently reached between the Food and Drug Administration and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the FDA must decide by March 31 on whether to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).
The agreement was approved by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones in New York, who said the FDA must issue a final decision, not a tentative response.
Manufacturers have used BPA for more than four decades in consumer products such as plastic bottles, food packaging, dental sealants, food-can liners, cash register receipts, and packaging for many frozen, processed, and canned foods.
The U.S. government claims low doses of BPA are safe, even though current federally approved BPA levels are based on experiments done in the 1980s. But the government has been forced to acknowledge a growing body of scientific evidence linking BPA to diabetes, heart disease, breast and prostate cancers, and reproductive abnormalities.
There are more than 200 recent studies linking low doses of BPA with adverse health effects, which has pressured the government to invest $30 million to conduct new research.
But as the Washington Post points out, FDA officials have remained silent about BPA research for the past two years, and have not responded to NRDC’s petition despite all the evidence exposing the health risks posed by BPA, especially to infants and children.
“There have been no updates,” said Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist at NRDC. “FDA has not been very public or transparent on what they’re doing on BPA…We welcome more science, but there comes a point when you have enough information to make a decision, and in this case, we think that point passed years ago.”
The Post claims the American Chemistry Council dismissed the court settlement as a “non-event”, and adds that the group insists BPA is safe.
“The consensus of government regulatory bodies around the world, including the U.S. FDA and the European Food Safety Authority, is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials,” said Steven G. Hentges, one of the council’s senior directors.
As Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) forges ahead with legislation he authored that would rid BPA from all food and beverage containers, Scott Faber, a vice president at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, expects the FDA to support the industry’s position.
“Every other regulatory authority around the globe has concluded that BPA is safe for use in food containers, and we expect FDA will reconfirm this finding.”
Notice the dismissive, arrogant tone in the comments made by both Faber and Hentges. Their comments illustrate two very important points: the assumption by big business that government regulatory officials will routinely place corporate interests above consumer safety (which they do), and the callous and ruthless sociopathic mentality shared by food retailers and manufacturers.
Any sane, rational, caring person would not hesitate to embrace restrictive policies regarding the use of chemicals that may pose a health risk to children and pregnant women, even if there was the slightest doubt about the risks.