|Bisphenol A is a known endocrine disruptor commonly used in the production of many household items, from baby bottles to plastic food containers to soup cans to dental fillings; and exposure via tap water and house dust is now also thought possible. Many studies have linked long term, low-level BPA exposure to everything from increased risks for obesity by triggering fat-cell activity, to diabetes, heart disease and an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life from fetal exposure.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -
Frustrated at media portrayals of bisphenol A as a dangerous chemical, food-packaging executives and lobbyists for the chemical makers met this week at an exclusive Washington, D.C., club where they hammered out a strategy, including showcasing a pregnant woman to talk about the benefits of the chemical known as BPA.
The meeting was private, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained a summary of the discussion. John Rost, chairman of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, confirmed that the meeting took place. He said the summary was incomplete and did not accurately portray all the discussions.
A pregnant woman would be "the holy grail" to serve as a spokeswoman, the memo says.
And isn't this a cute little maneuver? If you're concerned about the well documented detrimental health effects of BPA upon those who are exposed to it, wealthy industry lobbyists and PR flacks plan on calling you a racist -
Other strategies discussed at this week's BPA industry meeting included focusing on how BPA bans would disproportionately put minorities at risk, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans who are more inclined to be poor and dependent on canned foods. Committee members said they would try to get stories in the media that spread the message that canned goods made without BPA would be more likely to become contaminated.
And who are these fantastic defenders of the poor and downtrodden of our society?
Companies and organizations attending the meeting included the Coca-Cola Co., Alcoa Inc., Crown Holdings Inc., the North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc., the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Del Monte Corp. and the American Chemistry Council, which lobbies for the chemical makers.
Ah, yes. A veritable cornucopia of tireless civil rights warriors!
Here's who the conference host, NAMPA, is -
NAMPA was founded in 1993 as The Inter-Industry Group for Light Metal Packaging. Its membership has grown significantly over the years and has become a leading force in the promotion of light metal packaging technologies.
NAMPA wants to make sure that your beans and soda cans continue to slowly and quietly poison you and your family, because that saves them a few pennies. Rats tend to flee sinking ships, but not these low life slime. They're scurrying now to bribe pregnant women to promote their favorite deadly gender bending chemical -
Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that polycarbonate containers release the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) into liquid stored in them.
BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals and has been linked with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans.
Experts warned that babies are at greater risk, because heating baby bottles increases the amount of BPA released, and the chemical is potentially more harmful to infants.
Yeah, and there's an added bonus! Babies don't vote. At the ballot box, or at shareholder meetings. But some might say that they're certainly stakeholders -
This year, 2 separate panels from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have expressed concerns about infant exposure to BPA. The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) concluded that there was "some concern" that infant exposure could harm brain development and adversely affect behavior (CERHR 2007b). The chairman of the CERHR panel indicated that "it might be a time for application of the precautionary principle" for BPA, suggesting that parents would be wise to avoid all infant exposure to the chemical until serious outstanding questions about BPA's potential harm are sorted out (Hileman 2007).
More grave concerns were expressed by a BPA expert committee convened by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of NIH. A consensus statement prepared by the committee concluded that the majority of current human exposures are at or above the levels that cause harm in repeated animal studies (vom Saal 2007).
Dozens of recent studies link very low concentrations of BPA with permanent alterations of the reproductive system, brain and behavior of laboratory animals (Maffini 2006). However, FDA regulations governing BPA leaching from food containers are completely out of touch with these findings of low dose toxicity. Regulations mandate that leaching of BPA into food must not exceed 0.05 milligrams of BPA from each square inch of the can surface (FDA 2006). At the maximum allowable BPA leaching, this would result in 0.5 to 5 parts per million of BPA in standard size formula cans, and lead an average 0 to 4 month old baby to exceed EPA's outdated safe daily dose of BPA by up to 30 times (EPA 1998).
Oh, the precautionary principle? Nah, we don't to be like "Old Europe", do we?
NAMPA, meanwhile, has some news -
NAMPA's participation in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) value chain meeting on January 30, 2009, was well received and we continue to develop and work closely with FDA and others in the value chain to ensure our message is communicated clearly and often.
Yes, they unfortunately do "work closely" with FDA. A bit too closely, some would say -
Dozens of e-mails and more than 100 pages of attachments were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. They show that chemical trade association lobbyists routinely have met with FDA administrators over the past nine years to give their opinion on various independent studies on the effects of BPA. At times, the lobbyists' comments appeared to dismiss work as incomplete or amateurish.
I wonder if this is why the "metal packaging industry" is so concerned all of a sudden?
There has been justifiable concern recently about BPA leaching from baby bottles into the baby's formula. The available data indicate, however, that liquid formulas may be a more potent source of infant exposure to BPA.
BPA has been detected in 16 of 20 liquid formula samples tested by FDA and EWG. Concentrations range from less than 1 part per billion (ppb) to 17 ppb in these samples, with an average of 5 ppb (EWG 2007a; Biles 1997). Although the data from the FDA are now 10 years old, EWG found no information indicating that formula containers has changed significantly since then, and our recent testing finds quite similar results.
Ah, so now of course it's time to greenwash themselves via "young kids" and pregnant women...
It's nice to see that NAMPA is reporting on the problems with their favorite killer chemical, though. Straight from the horse's mouth!
A January 25, 2009, article in the Washington Post about a breast cancer database quoted a doctor who specializes in the treatment of breast cancer as citing BPA as one of his top three factors associated with the development of the disease. In the last week of January, several publications, including the Detroit Free Press, Modern Medicine, The Daily Green, and Living the Science, reported on the findings from a new study conducted by the University of Rochester, and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, which found that BPA stays in the body longer than was previously thought, thereby, according to the study authors, increasing the chance it may cause harm.
(Here's my write up on that University of Rochester study from back when it was released...)
Still other articles, appearing in magazines and online sources such as BestLife, the InjuryBoard.com, and NaturalNews.com, focused on broad generalizations about the dangers posed by exposure to BPA, and encouraged consumers to avoid using plastic bottles or cans.
Among the most significant articles that have appeared in the past month is one that appeared in Fast Company magazine, a publication focused on businesses with an emphasis on innovation and creativity in the business world. In the February 2009 issue, Fast Company featured an article titled "The Real Story on BPA," a lengthy piece highly critical of the science used to justify continued use of the chemical and the process by which the science is evaluated by our government. The article raised serious questions about FDA's review of BPA and slammed industry's role in the scientific review.
Thank you, NAMPA! Via Stanton Communications, Inc., who ironically (?) enough also happen to do PR for the rabidly pro-carcinogen Formaldehyde Council.
Here's a link to that fantastic Fast Company piece on BPA -
Just five companies make BPA in the United States: Bayer, Dow, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, SABIC Innovative Plastics (formerly GE Plastics), and Sunoco. Together, they bring in more than $6 billion a year from the compound. Each of them referred questions about BPA's safety to their Arlington, Virginia -- based trade association, the American Chemistry Council. "Our view would be, Well, no, there isn't anything to be concerned about," says Steve Hentges, the council's point person on BPA. "In a sense, you could have 'some concern' about just about anything."
Perhaps. But consider this: Of the more than 100 independently funded experiments on BPA, about 90% have found evidence of adverse health effects at levels similar to human exposure. On the other hand, every single industry-funded study ever conducted -- 14 in all -- has found no such effects.
Oh, well...I'm sure that's just a coincidence? Maybe not...
It is the industry-funded studies that have held sway among regulators. This is thanks largely to a small group of "product defense" consultants -- also funded by the chemical industry -- who have worked to sow doubt about negative effects of BPA by using a playbook that borrows from the wars over tobacco, asbestos, and other public-health controversies. A secretive Beltway public-relations consultant. A government contractor funded by the industries it was hired to assess. A Harvard research center with a history of conflicts of interest. These have been the key actors in how the science of BPA has been interpreted by the government. And it is their work, as much as the science itself, that has stymied regulation.
Definitely read the rest of that article, it's fascinating. Shines yet more light on how exactly "our" regulators go about their "regulating"...
That is, when they're not seeking information from plastics and chemical industry lobbyists to discredit scientific studies that reflect poorly upon BPA without even reviewing them -
In one instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's deputy director sought information from the BPA industry's chief lobbyist to discredit a Japanese study that found it caused miscarriages in workers who were exposed to it. This was before government scientists even had a chance to review the study.
"I'd like to get information together that our chemists could look at to determine if there are problems with that data in advance of possibly reviewing the study," Mitchell Cheeseman, deputy director of the FDA's center for food safety and applied nutrition, said in an e-mail seeking advice from Steven Hentges, executive director of the trade association's BPA group.
The FDA relied on two studies - both paid for by chemical makers - to form the framework of its draft review declaring BPA to be safe.
I'm happy to report that so far, Minnesota, Chicago, and Suffolk County, NY value science and human health over chemical and plastics industry interests. Hopefully, we can move much further beyond that very soon.
If you're here in Oregon, we can sign on here in support of HB 2367, which will at least start us on the road to where we need to go. There is also legislation in the works in California.
HR 1523, the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009, is currently in the US House, having been introduced by Edward Markey (D-MA) in March. A similar bill was also introduced in the US Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). You can learn more here.
At home, the Daily Green gives us tips on how to avoid BPA, as does the Environmental Working Group.
And via Jill, these companies have already spent quite a bit of cash on the effort so far, as well -
In Q1 2009:
Bayer spent $1,843,672 on lobbying
Grocery Manufacturers spent $720,000
Nestle spent $616,843
Pepsi spent $400,000
While we do not know how much of these dollar amounts were specifically spent lobbying against the BPA ban bills in Congress, each of those companies DID lobby against the BPA ban bills during Q1 2009.