Friday, March 30, 2012

FDA Rejects Call to Ban BPA from Food Packaging

FDA  rejects call to ban BPA from food packaging
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

The agency said Friday that petitioners did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on the much-debated chemical, commonly known as BPA, though federal scientists continue to study the issue.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's petition was the latest move by public safety advocates to prod regulators into taking action against the chemical, which is found in everything from CDs to canned food to dental sealants.

About 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, mainly because it leaches out of bottles, canned food and other food containers.

Some scientists believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, particularly in babies and small children, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases. They point to results from dozens of BPA studies in rodents and other animals.

But FDA reiterated in its response that that those findings cannot be applied to humans. The agency said the studies cited by NRDC were often too small to be conclusive. In other cases they involved researchers injecting BPA into animals, whereas humans ingest the chemical through their diet over longer periods of time. The agency also said that humans digest and eliminate BPA much more quickly than rats and other lab animals.

"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans," the agency said in its response.

The National Resources Defense Council petitioned the FDA in 2008 to ban BPA as a food additive, including all uses in food or beverage packaging. Petitions on various safety issues are routinely filed by advocacy groups, companies and even individuals. When the FDA failed to respond within the required timeframe, the environmental group sued the agency. In December a federal judge ruled that the agency had to respond by the end of March.

The agency's official position is that there is "some concern" about BPA's effects on young children. The government is spending $30 million to conduct additional studies on the chemical's impact on humans. Several federal studies published in the last two years suggest that even human embryos retain far less BPA than other animals.

Many companies have already responded to consumer demand by removing BPA from their products. In 2008, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys "R'' Us said they began phasing out bottles, sippy cups and other children's items containing BPA. By the end of 2009, the six leading makers of baby bottles in the U.S. went BPA-free. Earlier this month Campbell's Soup said it would begin removing BPA from its most popular soups, though it did not set a time frame.

But the vast majority of canned goods in the U.S. are still sealed with resin that contains BPA to prevent contamination and spoiling. Canned food manufacturers have used the chemicals since the 1950s, and the practice is approved by the FDA. The chemical industry says BPA is the safest, most effective sealant.
Some manufacturers have begun switching to alternatives. Heinz reportedly uses BPA-free coatings for its Nurture baby formula cans, and ConAgra and General Mills say they have switched to alternative sealants for some canned tomatoes.

The federal government has been grappling with the safety of BPA for more than four years. The FDA revised its opinion on BPA in 2010 saying there is "some concern" about the chemical's impact on the brain and reproductive system of infants, babies and young children. Previously the agency said the trace amounts of BPA that leach out of food containers are not dangerous.

While older children and adults quickly eliminate the chemical through their kidneys, newborns and infants can retain it for longer. Scientists pushing for a ban on the chemical argue that BPA mimics the effects of the hormone estrogen, interfering with growth.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Media Hypes BPA Ban, Endangers Everyone's Health

By Alan Caruba

A direct threat to the health of millions worldwide is being hyped by the media, continuing the anti-science, anti-fact, and pro-illness agenda of environmental organizations to ban BPA, a chemical that protects against food-borne disease and increases the safe use of all plastic containers.

From January through June 2011, I wrote and posted a six-part series called “The BPA File” that anyone can read on the blog I created for the series. Thoroughly research and documented, it was written because of my concern that this particular effort to ban the chemical would, like the ban on DDT, cause millions to die.

On February 16, Matthew Glans, the Midwest Director of The Heartland Institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, posted a commentary on its “Somewhat Reasonable” blog, “Media Biggest Proponent for BPA Ban.” My research files are filled with hundreds of examples of this and one need only Google “BPA” to find thousands of references to the chemical with the single theme of banning it.

As Glans points out and my series confirms, “Chemical BPA is a chemical used in plastics for many consumer products. Amongst other uses, BPA (is) most commonly used in hardened plastics and as part of the safety liner for food and beverage cans.”  (Emphasis added)

BPA is an acronym for Bisphenol-A and it has been in use for more than six decades, tested hundreds of times, and never found to post a threat to health, but rather as an essential packaging element to protect it.

Glans quotes an article by Business and Media Institute’s Julia Seymour who wrote that the “Fear of chemicals and ‘toxins’ is rampant among the so-called ‘environmental’ left. Unfortunately, that phobia infects national media coverage as well. For more than a decade, the Left has been on the attack against BPA, a product that is commonly found in plastics and other products.”

Ms. Seymour noted that “The Food and Drug Administration has a deadline of March 31 to respond to a petition by the National Resources Defense Council—an environmental group—that seeks to ban BPA. NRDC argues that the FDA should ban BPA on the basis that it causes harm to humans.”

If you read my BPA series, you will learn that BPA has been tested here and in other nations and has been found to pose no health threat whatever.

“Meanwhile,” said Ms. Seymour, “the media have exaggerated the threat of BPA for years. On the Feb. 25, 2010, CBS ‘Early Show’ broadcast, Katie Lee crossed the line from hype into outright falsehood when she said of BPA: ‘And that’s been shown to cause liver disease, heart failure, all sorts of things.”

“The Business & Media Institute analyzed ABC, CBS, and NBC reports as well as The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal that discussed BPA from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011.”

Incredibly, Canada, Japan, Denmark and France have banned the use of BPA for several products, including baby bottles. To date, “the FDA has been unwilling to declare BPA unsafe.” There’s a reason for that. Its history and the many tests of BPA have found it to be entirely safe.

Let’s understand a fundamental determination of what is toxic or not. As Paracelsus (1492-1541) said long ago, “All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison.”

If you take too much aspirin, too many sleeping pills, too many pain-killers, too many of any medication, it will likely kill you. This is why directions for their use are printed on every bottle. Substances like arsenic can be found in potatoes, but the amount of arsenic is so low that its ingestion poses no threat whatever. Moreover, our bodies possess organs that clean such substances from our bodies and evacuate them every single day.

The real toxins are the lies the media prints and broadcasts without researching the claims of environmental organizations that thrive on the income such scare campaigns generate and whose fundamental agenda is the reduction of the world’s population “to save the Earth.”

© Alan Caruba, 2012