Taking Odds on Possible BPA Ban by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration will have to decide by March 31 whether to ban the use of BPA in food and beverage packaging, due to a settlement between the FDA and the watchdog group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

 
Which way will the FDA go? Will it ban BPA? Why or why not? How will the government weigh the science, the economics, industry pressure, non-profit pressure, the lack of well studied alternatives? Even if you are unsure, what odds are you giving the ban? We can assume that food and packaging industries are working on alternatives - and probably already have some, though they may be more expensive or less convenient than BPA.
C&EN's coverage of the BPA controversy has been like the epoxy coating on a soup can - pretty darned comprehensive. I was going to post a list of stories, but the search page returned 100 of them. So for timeliness and brevity I direct you to Steve Ritter's two part cover story. Go back and refresh your memory on Debating BPA's Toxicity and Exposure Routes Confound BPA Debate. Or, here's the shortest possible summary of the status right now: NRDC's says that a ban is warranted because it is a "chemical that causes brain damage in developing babies, infants and young children." The American Chemistry Council, the main trade group for U.S. chemical manufacturers, recently agreed that the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups should be banned (though they did so after manufacturers had already stopped using it in those applications). ACC continues to say that BPA is  safe in food and beverage containers. Add your insights to the comments section.

Author: Melody Bomgardner

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you, Melody, for focusing on this issue and the dilemma shared by industry and health advocates alike about BPA.

    One point: It seems inefficient to me to “debate” the science on rising rates of health effects linked to BPA and other under regulated chemicals.

    The chemical industry appears to have made BPA some kind of “line in the sand” public issue.

    If our chemical industry (and U.S. corporate culture overall) had more of a “greater good” focus, they might consider taking the funding the spend on the “spin doctors” and lobbyists who attack the science, and instead give it to their own chemists with which to boost the modern trends and new science to make safer chemicals.

    With corporate integrity now in the mainstream cultural spotlight, I believe voters are taking a long hard look at the petrochemical industry and efforts to block the new thinking we need to have a truly healthy future. They are coming to this: don’t give your money or your votes to individuals and their aligned corporations who are hurting, not helping our families.

    I wonder what it will take to get chemical industry decision makers to care more about their children’s own future than the – and let’s face it, they are obscenely huge – profits they are enjoying in these tough economic times.

    The BPA issue is a demonstration of the larger issue of corporate arrogance and disregard for the love of their country, damaging our national well being.

  2. A recent C&E News article indicated that the amount of BPA leaching from cans, etc. was miniscule compared to the loads of this chemical used in thermal printing papers, e.g. cash register receipts. So, the FDA bans BPA from can liners, and Mom (or Dad) comes home from shopping and prepares a meal with BPA on hands from handling the receipt! If this is truly a dangerous chemical, then it must be removed from ubiquitous cash register receipts as well.

  3. I agree with the ACC on this topic. An FDA ban will mean higher prices for food at the register at a time when people are already struggling. I expect that demand for affected products will go down due to price pressures and that manufacturing jobs will be lost.