Friday, December 28, 2012

BPA Resubs Replacements May Be More Harmful

BPA resin replacements may be more harmful

By Angela Logomasini, Independent Women's Forum and Competitive Enterprise Institute - 12/27/12 12:00 PM ET – The Hill, Congress Blog

As the year winds down, it’s a good time to look back at what was one of the biggest alarm stories of the year: the alleged health impact of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Were the claims true, and what might we expect to happen in 2013?
In 2012, news headlines were awash with faulty claims about dangers lurking in food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and even cash register receipts — all allegedly posed by BPA. Green groups targeted their message to women, who were — and continue to be--barraged with one-sided stories suggesting that BPA containers pose a serious threat to our children.
These activists claim that BPA is an “endocrine disrupter” — a chemical that affects human hormone systems. Supposedly, it impacts human development starting in the womb and eventually leads to everything from breast cancer, heart disease, obesity, and more. But as IWF scholars have explained many times on Inkwell and elsewhere, women should be wary of such hype.
Manufacturers have used BPA for more than 60 years to make hard, clear plastics and resins that line food containers, and there are no documented cases of BPA-related illnesses from consumer exposures. Research shows that the human body quickly metabolizes and passes out trace-levels of BPA found in food, producing no adverse health effects. Comprehensive studies conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization, United States, European Union, Canada, Japan, and other places have deemed the current uses of BPA safe.
Rather than focus on these comprehensive reviews, greens continue to cite random and largely inconclusive studies that claim to “link” BPA to health problems. But many of these studies are more akin to junk science than hard science as they simply don’t have good data to assess BPA exposures. In fact, researchers highlighted this problem in a recent article in the journal PLOS One.
Nonetheless, governments have already begun taking action on BPA merely to alleviate anxieties generated by environmental activists rather than to address legitimate public health problems. For example, following Canada’s lead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA use in baby bottles and sippy cups this year even though it deemed those uses safe. And the French recently have banned its use in food packaging.
If there is anything to fear, it’s the regulations that may result from the hype. In fact, products that replace BPA may not be any safer and in some cases may be more dangerous.
Ironically, earlier this year, researchers pointed out that the chemical used to replace BPA for plastic baby bottles and reusable water bottles, known as Bisphenol S (BPS), is actually a more potent “endocrine disrupter” and that the human body does not metabolize BPS as easily!
Fortunately, there are many reasons to doubt that trace exposures to BPS — or any synthetic chemical for that matter — could have significant hormonal effects. Synthetic chemicals simply are not potent enough. Consider the fact that natural substances in our diets that we consume every day — such as soy, almonds and a variety of legumes — contain endocrine mimicking” substances that are tens of thousands of times more potent than synthetic chemicals! And we all know, soy and nuts aren’t only safe — they are pretty good for you.
Accordingly while BPS plastic alternatives probably are no more dangerous than BPA, they certainly are not any safer.
Other options are potentially more dangerous. For example, greens suggest glass, but who could seriously deem it safer? We all know the risks associated with broken glass. Indeed, children face far higher risks from cuts and subsequent infections than they do from a trace chemical that has been used for decades without any documented adverse health impacts.
Bans on BPA resins that line cans may pose more serious risks. Specifically, BPA resinsline food containers — from soup to soda cans — to prevent the spread of deadly pathogens like E-coli. Manufacturers pointed out in the Washington Post that there aren’t any good alternatives for this use. Accordingly, bans that force us to buy inferior alternatives may mean increased food-borne illnesses.
Now that’s something to worry about.
Logomasini serves as a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Friday, December 7, 2012

No BPA Link to Heart Disease

Jon Entine, Contributor

12/06/2012 @ 11:14PM                                               

In Reversal, Bedrock Studies Linking Bisphenol A (BPA) to Heart Disease Challenged

Studies supposedly linking the plastic additive to diabetes, heart disease and coronary artery disease have been called a “bombshell” by anti-BPA NGOs and many journalists. Now those conclusions, and a central contention of
campaigners, is in doubt.

The most explosive claim of anti-BPA campaigners—that the plastic additive BPA causes an array of heart-related diseases—is in question, according to a peer reviewed paper on the science website PLOS One.

Environmental health scientist Judy LaKind from Penn State University and the University of Maryland and epidemiologist Michael Goodman from Emory University reviewed data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) that previous researchers concluded linked BPA to chronic diseases. Johns Hopkins mathematician Daniel Naiman did the analysis.

In contrast to those previous studies, which looked at only one, two or three datasets, these researchers found no associations between urinary BPA and heart disease or diabetes across four NHANES datasets. Their conclusions challenge one of the central contentions of researchers who believe that BPA is harmful.
The influence of the NHANES data in creating the popular belief that BPA is harmful cannot be overstated. The controversy originated just a few years ago, when bisphenol A was still a relatively obscure plastic additive that a group of obscure scientists had targeted as dangerously toxic.

Based on controversial studies of rodents injected with the chemical, they had come to believe that BPA was what they called an “endocrine disruptor” that did its dirty work at low doses. It distorted hormonal functions, they claimed, and could be blamed for a host of problems from cancer to reproductive and metabolic issues to heart disease. It was a controversial contention, as toxicity has traditionally been linked to exposure—the dose makes the poison, in Paracelsus’ famous phrase.

Heart disease theory rests on questionable data?

A key turning point in the debate came in 2008 with the release of a study based on the NHANES data covering 2003/4 of nearly 1500 adults in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A team of researchers led by David Melzer, an epidemiologist at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom concluded that respondents with higher amounts of BPA in their urine were more likely to report having heart disease and diabetes.

“This is a big deal,” said University of Missouri biologist Frederick vom Saal, the chief proponent of the “endocrine disruptor” hypothesis, who co-authored an
opinion piece that accompanied the study in


JAMA. He and John Peterson Myers, a biologist and longtime collaborator, demanded immediate regulatory restrictions on BPA and phthalates, another class of chemicals they contend is dangerous.

The associations were modest, which led the Food and Drug Administration to immediately reaffirm its belief that BPA was safe. But that’s not how it was played in the media and by advocacy NGOs, which flooded the Internet with hundreds of stories “linking” BPA to heart disease. Thousands of articles have since cited the NHANES study as “proof” of BPA’s harmful effects or otherwise casually asserted that BPA is “linked to” or “associated with” chronic heart problems.

After the release of yet another Melzer study based on more recent NHANES data, in 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council hyperbolically characterized the findings as a “bombshell” as part of its campaign to connect common exposure to everyday chemicals to serious diseases, such as cancer—claims that are not supported by the evidence.

“Health care reform should be linked directly to toxic chemical reform,” wrote Gina Solomon, a scientist and former blogger for the NRDC. “Chemicals such as BPA are a potentially preventable cause of serious illness, and prevention saves lives and dollars.”

Cherry picking data?

The LaKind-Goodman study identified what appear to be two anomalies in the analysis by Melzer and two other related papers released in 2010 and 2011. A diabetes study included as diabetic people who did not have diabetes but had borderline symptoms—a non-standard definition of diabetes. Without those people included, the BPA-diabetes link disappeared.

The heart disease study found a weak association between BPA and heart disease—but it excluded six people who had the highest BPA concentrations. It turns out that none of those left out had heart disease. The inclusion of those respondents would have led to a finding of no association between BPA and serious heart problems. This contentious evidence led to the “bombshell” finding the NRDC crowed about.

The only explanation for leaving out the healthy respondents provided in the Melzer paper is that those excluded were “outside the range of BPA in the original 2003/04 sample,” which topped out at 80.1 ng/mL. According to
epidemiologists I spoke with, they made an odd and arbitrary choice. In a blistering online response to the LaKind-Goodman study they now maintain that the excluded samples, which range from 83.6 to 150, and one outlier at 383, might have been “contaminated.”

In their response, Melzer et al. sharply challenged the overall thrust of the new study, calling it “unfocused” and “poorly documented, and noted that the LaKind-Goodman research was supported by the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council. According to the paper, and under the rules of the peer review process, “the ACC was not involved in the design, collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or in the preparation or approval of the manuscript.”

In more substantive criticism, Melzer said that the new study had left out more than 400 survey respondents, implying those excluded could have skewed the results. LaKind and Goodman wrote they excluded survey respondents who omitted their age, body mass, smoking behavior or other variables to keep the data consistent. Melzer and the primary author of the diabetes study, University of Michigan doctoral pre-candidate Monica Silver, also pointed out that the new study included children in the diabetes assessment, which could also account for the different conclusions. Regardless, responded Lakind and Goodman, they claim they consistently found no associations between urinary BPA and heart disease or diabetes across four NHANES datasets.

Melzer pointedly noted that in a more recent study, published earlier this year, his team found that those who developed coronary artery disease tended to have higher urine BPA concentrations up to ten years earlier than those who did not develop heart disease.

The dispute over the data threatens to obscure the LaKind and Goodman’s most salient conclusion. NHANES is a robust and critically important public health database, they maintain. However, it only measures concurrent exposure to chemicals as reflected in urine, and not long-term impacts.

Limitations of NHANES survey to analyze BPA

“Our results don’t shed light on whether BPA is or isn’t a risk factor for diabetes or heart disease,” said LaKind. “Rather, the point we are making is that using data from cross-sectional studies like NHANES surveys to draw such conclusions about relations between short-lived environmental chemicals and chronic diseases is inappropriate.”

Melzer brushed off that point completely in his response. But Monica Silver, who headed the diabetes study using the NHANES data, emailed me: “I completely agree [with LaKind and Goodman on this point] and make similar conclusions in our paper. NHANES’ utility is not in making broad statements of causation of a given disease by a given exposure, but rather in providing preliminary, hypothesis building evidence that can inform future work.”

Many science-challenged journalists and activist NGOs, like the NRDC and Environmental Working Group that put advocacy ahead of science, consistently misrepresent and hype studies that show the presence of chemicals in urine, as if that signals likely toxic effects. The use of biomonitoring data is problematic, say scientists, particularly as it pertains to BPA. According to the FDA reflecting the emerging scientific consensus, “[O]ral BPA administration [of BPA] results in rapid metabolism of BPA to an inactive [and therefore harmless] form.” In other words, BPA is detoxified and excreted.

That was confirmed in what is considered the state-of-the-art, independent study financed by the Environmental Protection Agency on the potential harm of BPA—headed by Justin Teeguarden, a senior scientist at Battelle’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier research centers, to assess how humans process BPA. Their conclusion: Despite the presence of the chemical in urine, human blood concentrations of BPA are infinitesimally low—undetectable in most cases and thousands of times lower than any level that is likely to cause harm to humans.

Although low doses of certain chemicals can induce non-monotonic effects, scientists who have reviewed these studies, time and again, have come away unconvinced these effects consistently or even generally suggest harm. Since 2007, there have been more than a dozen comprehensive reviews of BPA studies by independent government scientists around the world, including in Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and the United States, and each has concluded that current uses of the chemical are safe.

The European Food Safety Authority in summer 2010, a joint UN Food and Agriculture Organization/WHO expert panel on BPA in November 2010, and a special Advisory Committee of the German Society of Toxicology in spring 2011 have all independently concluded that the collective body of evidence demonstrates that BPA does not pose serious neurological dangers or cause cancer in humans, and has not even been shown to be an “endocrine disruptor,” although it does have modest but not necessarily harmful endocrine effects.
Most recently, in October, Health Canada and that country’s Bureau of Chemical Safety upheld its prior scientific finding that found BPA poses no serious threat. “Based on the overall weight of evidence,” reads the report, “the findings of the previous assessment remain unchanged and Health Canada’s Food Directorate continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.”

More on science literacy at the Genetic Literacy Project
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Jon Entine is senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Management and STATS at George Mason University.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More False BPA "Science" By News Release


By Alan Caruba
News releases trumpeting not merely inaccurate, but false, science have become a way of life for Americans and others around the world. There is rarely, if ever, any fact checking done by the editors and reporters who pass along often dangerously false science on a wide range of topics, with many reports designed to alarm consumers.
Such is the case with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that has been in use for some 60 years to protect the contents of metal food containers and create shatter resistant plastics. In 2011 I wrote a four-part series about the efforts to ban BPA which has been subjected to more than 5,000 studies, none of which has found harm or undue risk in normal use. Its safety was reaffirmed earlier this year by the refusal of the Food and Drug Administration to ban it.
But the anti-chemical drumbeat continues. A recent study at the University of California-San Diego that purported to show a risk of danger when BPA was metabolized and this finding was announced by a news release issued by the university. It was reviewed and approved by researcher Michael Baker and contained the traditional hype we see when organizations want to whip up public concern when none is warranted. Remarkably, the tactic was exposed in a lengthy article by Jon Entine in Forbes magazine.
News releases trumpeting information that is not merely inaccurate but false have become a way of life for Americans and others around the world. There is rarely, if ever, any fact checking done by the editors and reporters who pass along often dangerously false pseudo-science on a wide range of topics, from chemicals to the climate. But Entine’s article revealed something many has suspected but few have ever admitted.
Baker confessed to Entine that “I have no evidence, none at all, that BPA causes any problems in humans. This was a theoretical exercise, and it would be trumped by what actually happens in the real world. Based on what I know now, neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful. I am upset that my structural study is misused by some.”
“Misused”? Hardly. More like part of the massive effort by the opponents of the real science regarding BPA and it is designed and intended to frighten people because fear is the most potent weapon that the many advocates of false causes that mask themselves as saving lives or even saving the Earth.
Writing in the National Review, Julie Gunlock noted that reports on Baker’s study, read by those without knowledge of the real facts about BPA, “causes moms like me to gnaw off their fingernails at the thought that we might be poisoning our children with chemicals. But that’s okay; regular moms and dads (already struggling with high food and fuel costs) can just run out and support the cottage industry that has sprouted up in the wake of these terrifying headlines—the BPA-free industry.”
“Of course, what parents won’t hear about is Baker’s mea culpa because if there’s one thing parents can count on from today’s science writers is an absolute dearth of Entine-esque journalism when it comes to BPA.” She could not be more correct.
Science writing today is one of the most debased forms of popular journalism found in newspapers and magazines and BPA is just one example. Consider our food supply. A recent commentary in The Wall Street Journal by Dr. Henry I. Miller, a physician, molecular biologist and fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, cited the way Greenpeace, one of the leading environmental organizations, “has always had a flair for publicity” to become “a $260 million-plus per year behemoth with offices in more than 40 countries.”
Dr. Miller warns that the Greenpeace PR machine “is now spearheading an effort to deny the poorest nations the essential nutrients they need to stave off blindness and death. The targets are new plant varieties collectively called ‘golden rice.’ Rice is a food staple for hundreds of millions, especially in Asia. Although it is an excellent source of calories, it lakes certain nutrients necessary for a complete diet. In the 1980s and 1990s, German scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer developed the ‘golden rice’ varieties that are biofortified, or enriched, by genes that produce beta-carotine, the precursor of vitamin A.”
Hundreds of millions of children of pre-school age are at risk of vitamin A deficiency, leading to blindness and death within a year for about 70% of those children and Greenpeace is using its multi-million dollar flacking apparatus to ply its nonsense to a gullible and uncritical news media and reduce access to this valuable food source.
Now ask yourself how many children and adults would die from botulism in unprotected cans and bottles of food?
These and countless other examples represent the deep commitment of environmental organizations to limit and reduce billions of human lives which they regard as a nuisance that harms the Earth. Like golden rice, BPA saves lives. It is just one of countless chemicals that protect and extends life every day.
The real threat is the researchers and agenda-driven scientists intent on advancing the environmental movement’s objective of killing as many people as possible to “save the Earth.” They accomplish this through a media that either approves of this agenda or is just so starved for ratings and financial survival they’ll report any sensational headline available. The real threat is the debased “science journalism” that aids and advances this agenda.
© Alan Caruba, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

BPA Found Safe...By a Researcher Who Doesn't Want to Admit It

I’ve written on this site several times before about bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in everyday products like baby bottles, storage containers, and in the lining of canned food and the bad science surrounding efforts to ban it. Now science writer Jon Entine has a must-read article in Forbes that confirms long-held suspicions about the motivations of activists opposed to the use of BPA.
Entine explains that University of California-San Diego researcher Michael Baker hyped the results of his BPA research in a press release – a press release that Baker himself now renounces (how convenient for him to backtrack after his specious press release generated dozens of terrifying headlines).

Baker actually admitted his error to Entine, saying “I have no evidence, none at all, that BPA causes any problems in humans. This was a theoretical exercise, and it would be trumped by what actually happens in the real world. Based on what I know now, neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful. I am upset that my structural study is misused by some.”


Just a tiny little mistake that causes moms like me to gnaw off their fingernails at the thought that we might be poisoning our children with chemicals. But that’s okay; regular moms and dads (already struggling with high food and fuel costs) can just run out and support the cottage industry that has sprouted up in the wake of these terrifying headlines — the BPA-free industry.

 Parents won’t mind that these products are much more expensive. After all, isn’t your baby’s health worth it? Surely parents aren’t already cash-strapped with the truck-load of diapers they purchase on a monthly basis along with the toys, books, and other baby items one simply must supply a child with these days.

Of course, what parents won’t hear about is Baker’s mea culpa because if there’s one thing parents can count on from today’s science writers it is an absolute dearth of Entine-esque journalism when it comes to BPA. Baker’s study might not have generated such dramatic headlines if these journalists had revealed, as Entine does, that Baker has zero prior expertise in studying BPA or that his study didn’t include humans or even animals but rather was a computer simulation. Even more stunning, Entine discovered that Baker was unaware of the quite impressive body of research that shows BPA is safe.

In fact, thousands of studies conducted have shown BPA to be perfectly safe, yet those with an evangelical interest in continuing the hand-wringing about BPA cling desperately to any shred of information, no matter how far-fetched, supporting their position. And now, the very researchers who study BPA can’t be counted on to stick by their own findings that BPA is safe.

Don’t expect anti-BPA activists to be bowed by this latest blow to their religious crusade. Their ideology might still be intact but the science is proving them wrong. That’s a good thing for parents who have grown weary of these alarmist claims and who just want to keep their kids safe without spending a fortune.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The BPA Wars: Junk Science and Junk Journalism

By Alan Caruba

On Tuesday, September 18, posted an article by Alex Crees, a health news reporter, “Chemical BPA linked to obesity in children, teens.” If Ms. Crees had done any research to verify the facts she recounted in “a new study”, she would have known it was yet another bogus effort to correlate eating food with BPA.

Bisphenol-A, more commonly called BPA, is a chemical that has been in wide, safe use for over 50 years. It is used to coat the insides of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and protects them against food pathogens such as botulism and has the added value of protecting plastic bottles against breakage.

As I noted in my six-part series, The BPA File, In 2011 “the German Society of Toxicology released a review of more than five thousand previous studies of BPA exposure that concluded that BPA ‘exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.’” Researchers concluded that BPA is neither mutagenic nor likely to be a carcinogen.’”

Let me repeat that, “more than five thousand previous studies.” At what point can one expect a Fox News journalist to actually check her facts?

A graduate of New York University, Ms. Crees studied journalism, psychology, and Spanish. There is no indication she studied chemistry. If “journalism” is defined as mindlessly repeating some news release that says BPA “may increase the risk of obesity in children and teens”, permit me to suggest that eating lots of snacks, ice cream and candy “may” also increase that probability!

Anyone who wants to learn the truth about BPA is advised to visit, the website of Steve Milloy who has gained a solid reputation for debunking so-called “science based” fear campaigns. His data on BPA reveals that there is no scientific evidence that BPA:

• Has ever harmed anyone despite 50 years of use;

• Acts as an endocrine disruptor; and

• Has any health effects at low doses;

Furthermore, the data debunks some of the most oft-cited and false claims about BPA.

• BPA is not carcinogenic or mutagenic;

• BPA does not adversely affect reproduction or development at any realistic dose;

• BPA is efficiently “metabolized” and rapidly excreted after oral exposure

My series on BPA confirms Milloy’s findings, but Ms. Crees has written an article intended to add to the multitude of similar distortions while questioning the facts offered by authoritative sources.

The effect of this avalanche of articles has triggered a number of governments to ban some uses of BPA despite more than a half century of its use without any evidence of alleged harm, but governments are famous for acting on the bogus “precautionary principle” that essentially says that anything that might cause harm should be banned.

Going back centuries, it has been known that it is the amount of any given chemical that represents harm. 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.”

Ms. Crees’ article noted that “the study’s lead investigator Dr. Leonardo Trasanda, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, told, ‘This study raises concerns about the need to reconsider that stance (the presence of BPA).”

Excuse me, but what the heck is “environmental medicine” other than an excuse to scare people with studies about every chemical known to man and God? As for Dr. Trasanda’s study, it set out to correlate extremely low amounts of BPA in the urine of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 years old.

In the event no one has pointed it out to Dr. Trasanda and Ms. Crees, urine is excreted by the body, but Dr. Trasanda said, “We are especially concerned that children who ate too many calories might also ingest BPA.”

The operative word here is “might” and the likelihood that eating “too many calories” might play a far larger role in obesity than any other factor!

To her credit, at the very end of the article, Ms. Crees quoted Steven Hentges of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, who she identifies as a representative of “chemical manufacturers”, as saying that “Attempts to link our national obesity problem to minute exposures to chemicals found in common, everyday products are a distraction from the real efforts underway to address this important health issue.”

“Due to inherent fundamental limitations in this study, it is incapable of establishing any meaningful connection between BPA and obesity.”

Ms. Crees is guilty of both junk science and junk journalism. The Steven Hentges quote should have been the lead paragraph, not the last.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Calls for BPA Bans are Dangerous

By Angela Logomasini

This past July the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) to make baby bottles and sippy cups. Environmental activists would like you to believe the move was designed to protect public health and that more bans are necessary. But the greens are wrong on both counts -- and their advice could imperil public health.

For more than 50 years, manufacturers have safely used BPA to make hard, clear plastics for food containers, medical devices, safety goggles, and more. They also make resins that line aluminum and steel cans to reduce contamination of food and extend shelf-life.

Much of BPA's alleged risk to humans is based on studies of rodents that were administered massive doses, often by injection. The relevance of these studies to humans who are exposed to trace amounts in food is highly questionable. In addition, activists have attempted to use a number of studies conducted on humans to make their case even though reputable scientific bodies around the world have dismissed these studies as seriously flawed or inconclusive.

Activists also condemn BPA simply because it shows up in human urine. All this fact proves is that the human body, unlike rodents, quickly metabolizes BPA without ill effects. An EPA-funded study conducted on human volunteers who were exposed to high levels of BPA underscored this point. The chemical passed through the humans quickly, never reaching levels that pose problems to rodents.

Scientific panels around the world have investigated BPA many times -- examining the full body of research and focusing on the best science available. In Japan
, the European Union, Canada, Norway, France and elsewhere, researchers have found no public health risk related to consumer exposure to BPA. Even the Environmental Protection Agency -- which is well known for exaggerating chemical risks -- states that consumer exposure to BPA is likely 100 to 1,000 times lower than EPA's estimated safe-exposure levels for both infants and adults.
Because of activist group petitions, lobbying, and media campaigns, the FDA has continued to spend taxpayer dollars to study and re-study BPA during the past several years, but it has not been able to find a serious risk. Even as the agency issued its ban on BPA bottles and sippy cups, a representative explained to The New York Times: "based on all the evidence, we continue to support its [BPA's] safe use."
The ban came at the request of industry rather than to address health problems.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), explained in a press statement: "Although governments around the world continue to support the safety of BPA in food contact materials, confusion about whether BPA is used in baby bottles and sippy cups had become an unnecessary distraction to consumers, legislators and state regulators." Accordingly, the ACC supported a ban because it "provides certainty that BPA is not used to make the baby bottles and sippy cups on store shelves, either today or in the future."

But green groups use this industry driven-ban to advance a larger anti-BPA crusade. "This is only a baby step in the fight to eradicate BPA," says Sarah Janssen of the Natural Resources Defense Council in a press release. "To truly protect the public, FDA needs to ban BPA from all food packaging," she explains.
Janssen offers seriously bad advice because BPA resins control dangerous food-borne pathogens such as E. coli and botulism. And there are no good alternative products to replace BPA resins.

In fact, packaging manufactures have responded to the politically charged debate on BPA during the past several years by attempting to find alternatives -- without much success. One industry representative told The Washington Post, "We don't have a safe, effective alternative, and that's an unhappy place to be ... No one wants to talk about that." As a result, BPA resin bans may eventually translate into an increase in serious food-borne illnesses.

Still, some people argue that we should at least seek substitutes to "be on the safe side." They forget that every product of the market prevailed because it was the best to perform the job at an acceptable price at the time. Politically driven substitutes will always be second to the products that won in the marketplace. Thus, unless there is a verified and significant risk, banning products isn't a good idea.

Banning safe, useful products simply wastes investment that went into designing them, discourages innovators who fear similar repercussions, and diverts resources from useful enterprises into production of second, best substitutes. And for consumers, the result can be dangerous.

Angela Logomasini is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

August 31, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sour Grapes Over BPA

When activists don't get their way at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Certain political activists and the peddlers of pseudo-science who support them have been in high dudgeon ever since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its March 30 denial of a petition to ban bisphenol A (BPA) from food contact applications. BPA, a ubiquitous chemical, has been used safely for more than 50 years in polycarbonate plastics and in the lining of canned food to prevent bacterial contamination.

Research findings by federal government laboratory scientists, the results of which were announced last year, should have put the scare-mongering over BPA to rest. A human exposure study found that because of the way BPA is processed in the body, it would be virtually impossible for it to cause health effects in adults, children, or even fetuses. But the response from those who did not prevail in the FDA decision was sadly predictable: They smeared the agency and its scientific reviewers.

After more than two months of trashing the FDA, activists have taken a new tack to try to discredit the agency and its March decision. The argument, advanced by long-time BPA critic Frederick vom Saal and collaborator Patricia Hunt, claims there is a "Catch-22" imposed by the FDA on university researchers.
This disconnect is supposedly that the FDA rejected the conclusions of many experiments because researchers did not use enough laboratory animals due to federal restrictions on how many such animals may be used in experiments.

Vom Saal and his acolytes believe this to be the Silver Bullet that discredits the FDA's decision. But vom Saal, notorious for his ridiculous claim that feeding an infant with a shatterproof baby bottle was akin to giving the child a birth control pill, contradicts his own argument.

denouncing the FDA decision because of its protocols involving lab animals (in the same commentary appearing in two different publications on June 8 and June 10) , he states in both articles that "The FDA should know that the strength of conclusions that can be drawn from data is not directly dependent on the number of animals used."

On this count, vom Saal is correct. The FDA rejected arguments to ban BPA because none of the studies purporting to show harm conducted by vom Saal or anyone else demonstrated relevance to human health and the regulatory process. This central point is conspicuously absent from vom Saal's commentary because it does not mesh with his ideology. That's not how science works.

Vom Saal also hauled out the old cliché about the unreliability of research funded by industry, but that's another dog that won't hunt.

Vom Saal should know that FDA's various regulatory units routinely perform scientific reviews of industry-performed or funded research.

By implying an "industry-funding" conflict of interest, vom Saal neglects his own. Many university researchers, including vom Saal, are dependent to some degree on taxpayer-funded research grants. The formula among this cadre is simple: Find a way to show that something may cause harm and the tax dollars continue to flow for further research and for the care and feeding of the investigator. Research that shows no harm, on the other hand, runs the risk of turning off the spigot of grant money, and is seldom of interest to journal editors.

The FDA rejected the petition to ban BPA for a simple reason. There was no data that demonstrated harm or undue risk associated with normal consumer exposure to BPA. Recall the fundamental tenets of toxicology: Harm is a function of toxicity and exposure, and the dose makes the poison.

Scientists can and do disagree, but the incendiary approach of vom Saal and his collaborators coarsens the discussion and fails to advance either science or regulation. If there is anything toxic about BPA, it is the manner in which its ideological critics assault those with whom they disagree. Whether their unhappiness is driven by ignorance or self-interest, they have had their say and it is time to move on.

About the Author

Henry I. Miller, a physician and former FDA official, is the Robert Wesson Fellow of Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University's Hoover institution.

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