Food & Drug Administration refuses to ban BPA
Siding with the chemical industry, the Food & Drug Administration has opted not to ban Bisphenol A from food containers, citing lack of scientific evidence linking BPA exposure to breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
“Scientific evidence at this time does not suggest that very low levels of human exposure to BPA through the diet are unsafe,” according the FDA’s consumer update on March 30.
BPA is commonly found in plastic water bottles, food cans, and infant bottles, and the synthetic chemical is used to coat food packaging to prevent microbial contamination.
More than 200 scientific studies have indicated that exposure to BPA could cause adverse health effects, according to the National Resources Defense Council. The environmental advocacy group petitioned the FDA to “eliminate BPA from all food packaging.”
“BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the National Resources Defense Council. “The agency has failed to protect our health and our safety – in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children.”
The American Medical Association last year recommended banning the use of BPA in infant bottles and feeding cups because of the synthetic chemical’s hormone-disrupting effects.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored S. 136 “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011”, called the FDA’s decision “regrettable.”
In a July 2011 CNN op-ed, Feinstein suggested that the FDA was favoring the chemical lobby by refusing to regulate BPA without strong proof that the chemical is unsafe.
“I won’t argue that more research might be needed on the effects of BPA, but in the meantime, our children should not be used as guinea pigs,” Feinstein said following the FDA’s decision on Friday.
Feinstein’s bill to ban BPA is pending before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Click here to track the progress of S. 136.
Canada, the European Union, China, South Africa, Argentina, and 11 U.S. states have all prohibited the use of BPA in food packaging.
Scientific studies linking BPA to adverse health effects:
- Molecular Endocrinology: Perinatal exposure to Bisphenol A increases adult mammary gland progesterone response and cell number (November 2011)
- Reproductive Toxicology: Serum bisphenol A pharmacokinetics and prostate neoplastic responses following oral and subcutaneous exposures in neonatal Sprague–Dawley rats (January 2011)
- NeuroToxicology: The impact of neonatal bisphenol-A exposure on sexually dimorphic hypothalamic nuclei in the female rat (January 2011)
- The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Bisphenol A: An endocrine disruptor with widespread exposure and multiple effects (October 2011)
- Birth Defects Research: Bisphenol A: developmental toxicity from early prenatal exposure (December 2010)
- Circulation: Urinary Bisphenol: A Concentration and Risk of Future Coronary Artery Disease in Apparently Healthy Men and Women (February 2012)
- Environmental Research: Urinary bisphenol A and obesity: NHANES 2003–2006 (August 2011)
U.S. states that have banned BPA:
- New York
- Food and Drug Administration: Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application – update March 30, 2012
- Food and Drug Administration: FDA continues to study BPA (PDF)
- National Resources Defense Council: “FDA fails to protect our health and safety”
- National Resources Defense Council: Fix the FDA campaign
- National Resources Defense Council: Chemical Culprits: Bisphenol A
- American Medical Association: AMA Adopts New Policies at Annual Meeting (June 2011)
- Feinstein.Senate.gov: Feinstein: FDA’s BPA Decision on BPA is Disappointing and Regrettable
- Feinstein.Senate.gov: Letter to FDA dated Jan. 18, 2012 (PDF)
- CNN.com: Ban unsafe chemical from baby bottles and cups
- Thomas.LOC.gov: S. 136 “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011”