National Public Radio posted a story and audio report on bisphenol A and how it fits into the debate on the precautionary principle. The story, "Is 'Better Safe Than Sorry' Reason Enough For Law?", points out that even supporters of the concept of the precautionary principle disagree about where to draw the line. To put it bluntly, when is there enough doubt about the safety of a product to ban it? Reasonable people can disagree. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein used a very broad definition of the precautionary principle last month when she introduced her bill to restrict BPA. "If you do not know for certain the chemical is benign, it should not be used," Feinstein said. But Dr. Ted Schettler, director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, told NPR that Feinstein's standard is impossible to meet. "It's almost impossible to prove that something will never happen," said Schettler, an expert on the precautionary principle. (He still believes BPA should be removed from food and drink containers). Obviously the chemical industry doesn't want Feinstein's definition to set a precedent. Still, I doubt that even she would take it that far. Many chemicals that we all depend on every day in modern society are not "benign." Should we ban them all? When can we trust regulators, rather than politicians, to make these decisions? This is probably a case of a politician oversimplifying an issue for the benefit of creating a good sound bite. Meanwhile, BPA bans continue to gain traction, not only in Congress but in statehouses, too. In New Britain, Conn., The Herald newspaper has this report on a rally in Hartford that attracted about 50 people yesterday aimed at banning BPA. The event was sponsored by the Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Connecticut, and it was attended by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and state Sen. Ed Meyer, co-chairman of the Environmental Committee. According to The Herald, Blumenthal had this to say about BPA:
"This chemical kills and cripples," Blumenthal said, adding that everyone needs to demand that all manufacturers be more responsible.Perhaps Blumenthal and Feinstein need some remedial training in writing those sound bites.