FDA fails to tackle concerns over BPA

By Kaley LaQuea

Guest Columnist

Published: Sunday, April 8, 2012

Updated: Sunday, April 8, 2012

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration rejected a petition put forth by the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban Bisphenol A, a toxic substance found in nearly everything from baby bottles to soup cans. The chemical acts as estrogen in the body, mimicking the hormone, which disrupts growth and endocrine system function.

The FDA’s appalling negligence on this matter is a hefty disappointment for the American people, especially those who are unaware of the BPA lurking in their food packages and its detrimental effects. This is just another instance where the U.S. falls behind the global community with regard to health policy. Countries like Turkey and those within the European Union have banned the chemical in any baby bottles sold, while France and Canada have taken more stringent measures, banning the substance in all food packaging.

In 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to ban the chemical altogether, a process that was delayed by the American Chemistry Council. According to Natural Society, the council argued that BPA is in fact safe, however, it failed to “bring forth any new scientific data or information with respect to the nature and extent of the danger posed by Bisphenol A.”

It has been shown that infants and young children are more susceptible to BPA as they cannot process it out of their system at the rate adults can. The chemical has been linked to a whole host of health complications in both infants and adults, yet the FDA affirms that these findings are irrelevant because many of the studies were conducted on rats and mice, yielding results that were “not applicable to humans,” Business Week reports.

A two-year study by the Environmental Working Group found that BPA was present in the cord blood of nine out of 10 infants from five different states across the U.S. According to Business Week, the chemical is also present in the urine of roughly 90 percent of Americans.

There is no shortage of scientific evidence supporting the damaging nature of the chemical. This response by the FDA also begs the question: How many FDA-approved prescription medications have not been tested on humans, but were put on the shelf after favorable results found in studies conducted on animals in the laboratory? FDA guidelines explicitly state this is the typical industry procedure for testing drugs that will potentially be used by humans. The evidence supporting the claim of harmful effects caused by BPA is present, both for mice and humans. The FDA is simply choosing to ignore it.

Essentially, the most disconcerting aspect about BPA is that it is completely avoidable to use in packaging. Food product manufacturers like Heinz and General Mills have reported switching to alternative materials to rectify the problem, and other companies such as Campbell’s have stated they are in the process of removing the harmful chemical from their packaging. Reusable water containers like the brand CamelBak do not contain BPA, and even stores like Walmart and Toys R Us have banned baby bottles in their stores that are not BPA-free.

The petition literally forced the FDA to make a decision regarding the banning of BPA, as the administration failed to respond to it within a specified time frame, giving the NRDC right to sue the FDA. The lackadaisical attitude of the administration on the issue is extremely disheartening. The FDA needs to seriously reevaluate this decision.

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