... consumers and concerned producers and retailers of BPA products are left with two options: Trust that the chemical industry has their best interests at heart, or take precautions. In its report, the NIH's National Toxicology Program advised "concerned parents" to reduce their use of canned foods; use BPA-free baby bottles; and opt for glass, porcelain, or stainless-steel containers, particularly for hot foods and liquids. Independent scientists applauded, though many of them contend that the advice should have been even more strongly worded -- and would have been, were the agency not constrained by the industry-funded science. "The U.S. has this disjointed approach to chemicals management that doesn't focus on the inherent hazard of the chemical," says Joel Tickner, project director at the Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. BPA is far from the only modern-age substance whose effects we don't fully understand, and isn't the only product whose safety record has been twisted. In that way, perhaps, it may be the canary in the coal mine. And so the question looms: In our quest for progress -- and profit -- are we putting our future at risk?Critics have high expectations that the Obama administration will push for change in how the Food and Drug Administration regulates chemicals.
Fast Company blasts chemical industry stance on BPA
Fast Company magazine has a long, detailed story on the history of the bisphenol A safety debate on its Web site. The chemical and plastics industries are right in the bulls eye, starting with the title, "The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A," and the introduction: "How a handful of consultants used Big Tobacco's tactics to sow doubt about science and hold off regulation of BPA, a chemical in hundreds of products that could be harming an entire generation." The story doesn't require a thorough understanding of the BPA issue, although it definitely helps. It sets the stage pretty quickly, giving the history of researchers' questions about BPA, and establishing the differences in various studies ("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.") The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Sciences International and Weinberg Group, three insitutions that have played a role in industry efforts to defend BPA, are singled out for criticism. One critic notes that during the period that the Harvard center studied BPA, it "acted very much like a product-defense group." The other institutions are similarly discredited. The major contribution this story makes to the BPA debate is its effort to paint the chemical industry with the same brush as the tobacco industry, which used some of the same organizations in its efforts to discredit research on tobacco dangers. Obviously plastics don't want to be mentioned in the same story as tobacco, so readers of Fast Company's story are going to have a strong negative reaction against BPA. Here's the story's conclusion:
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