Make Mine a BPA
Like lead before it (and we all know how that turned out), bisphenol A is taking its turn in the spotlight, decked out in misinformation and escorted by ongoing controversy. Welcome to the party.
Before last week, it would seem the FDA had pretty much put this one to rest. But it didn’t really go away. In fact, it was really only a matter of time before someone brought this up again, and courtesy of The Washington Post, bring it up they did. Though I realize that, as a reporter, I “dig” for a living, it doesn’t take a backhoe to unearth that the FDA based its proclamation that BPA does not pose a safety concern on research funded by the American Plastics Council. Um, that sounds a little like a conflict of interest to me.
Not to paint the American Plastics Council with broad strokes of deliberate corporate malfeasance, but really. Go outside and count the number of hard-plastic water bottles you see people toting. It’s slightly naïve to expect an organization with such high stakes in the proliferation of plastics to contribute an unbiased report. I’m not saying their findings were false or doctored or even misinterpreted. But it’s just flawed logic for a governmental organization to base a decision on information that could be construed as slanted.
Still, there’s no need for hysteria—maybe BPA is indeed safe—but the dearth of full-disclosure reporting worries me.
Like I said, it’s strikingly similar to the last decade’s worth of back-and-forth between the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and various NGOs and consumer-advocacy groups on the subject of lead. The CPSC kept saying it was safe—“safe” according to grossly inadequate testing procedures—yet many kept pushing back. And now, lead is being phased out under the newly enacted Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act (if you don’t know, see here). Unfortunately, you can’t really take back years of lead exposure in kids because of contaminated bibs, toys and lunch boxes. What effect will they have? Only time will tell.