Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is The FDA Behind The Ball On Banning BPA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that they would not ban the use of a controversial chemical used in food packaging, various media outlets have reported.

According to Bloomberg‘s Jack Kaskey, the FDA rejected a request from environmental advocates seeking the agency to prohibit the use of bisphenol A, also known as BPA, in cans and other forms of packaging. In their ruling, the FDA determined that opponents of BPA, which has been used in epoxy linings for the past 50 years to keep canned foods and beverages fresh longer, “didn’t provide enough data to support a rule change,” he added.

“The information provided in your petition was not sufficient to persuade FDA, at this time, to initiate rulemaking to prohibit the use of BPA in human food and food packaging,” Acting Associate FDA Commissioner David H. Horsey wrote in a letter to, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the New York-based advocacy group that filed the lawsuit in 2008, according to Kaskey.

At least trace amounts of BPA, which Bloomberg said is created by combining phenol and acetone, are present in the systems of a reported 90% of all US citizens. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that the substance could have a negative impact on the brains and prostates of fetuses and young children, and Kaskey added that some scientists believe that BPA can cause adverse effects on the reproductive and nervous systems, especially in infants and small children.
“Scientists are still working to determine what effects BPA, which mimics estrogen in the body, has on human health once ingested,” added Bettina Boxall and Eryn Brown of the Los Angeles Times. “They know that… it has been shown to have negative effects in mice, including developmental and reproductive abnormalities, precancerous changes in the prostate and breasts, and other health problems. In epidemiological studies, researchers have reported correlations between BPA levels in people and higher risk of ailments including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver problems.”

Despite rejecting the NRDC’s petition, Boxall and Brown report that they have not completely ruled out regulating the substance in the near future. FDA spokesman Douglas Karas told the Times that the verdict was “not a final safety determination on BPA… There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA.”

The Associated Press (AP) said that despite the findings regarding BPA in animals, they cannot necessarily be applied to humans, and that research provided by the NRDC were “too small to be conclusive.”

“The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research,” Dr. Sarah Janssen, the NRDC’s senior scientist for public health, told the AP. “This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals.” - Red Orbit 

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