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Gina Solomon’s Blog

FDA to Consumers: We're still thinking about it. Sorry you're still eating it

Gina Solomon

Posted March 30, 2012 in Health and the Environment

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FDA is kicking the BPA-lined can further down the road in an announcement today that the Agency plans to keep studying this issue while consumers continue to be exposed. Specifically, the Agency's response to NRDC's petition is: "FDA has determined, as a matter of science and regulatory policy, that the best course of action at this time is to continue our review and study of emerging data on BPA."

The FDA response to NRDC comes as a result of a petition NRDC filed years ago asking the Agency to ban BPA for food-contact uses, and a resulting lawsuit when FDA failed to offer any response at all. The FDA was legally required to respond to the petition, and did so today with another punt.

The extensive science on BPA is summarized in my colleague Sarah Janssen's blog here. Many companies have already responded to the science and to consumer demands by removing BPA from their products, making FDA's announcement today particularly out-of-step with current reality.

BPA is a known endocrine-disrupting chemical that was widely used in baby bottles, water bottles, infant formula containers, and in the lining of food cans. Today, many of these uses are essentially obsolete as manufacturers have moved to alternatives, but far too much BPA is still on the market and in products.

It's unfair for the FDA to continue to put the burden on consumers to pick-and-choose among products if they want to avoid exposure to this chemical, which is linked to a wide variety of health problems ranging from cancers to reproductive problems and from metabolic syndrome to diabetes.

The FDA's public statement says: "this announcement is not a final safety determination and the FDA continues to support research examining the safety of BPA." I'm glad that the FDA didn't completely ignore the science showing harm, and I actually agree that more research is a good thing. However, it makes me uncomfortable to think that while the research and regulatory process drags on (for how many more years?) consumers are continuing to be exposed. Let's hope the FDA remembers their responsibility to public health and takes action soon. Meanwhile, consumers need to continue to protect themselves.

Find out more about BPA and how you can avoid it here.

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Comments

Cindy GermataApr 6 2012 02:03 PM

Thank you Captain Grey. Very very well said, and thank you for quoting one of my favorite Presidents, Abe Lincoln. We will prevail as long as we continue to remain engaged and proactive.

Rick BourdonApr 6 2012 02:28 PM

Sadly, the Lincoln quote is bogus. See http://www.snopes.com/quotes/lincoln.asp.

Sharon KlemmApr 6 2012 02:28 PM

A. Lincoln wouldn't recognize the place; he thought it was bad then.... It's interesting how smart people, Lincoln, Carson, Leopold, et. al, have been sounding the alarm sometimes for centuries. WE DO NOT LISTEN AND WILL NOT UNTIL WE ARE ON THE BRINK.

Such a stupid species we are.

Eileen McNamaraApr 6 2012 05:07 PM

I find this so discouraging. Years ago in an effort to be ecologically sound I bought reusuable plastic water bottles. Then when the first stirrings that BPA was harmful I replaced them all with Sigg bottles. For those of you who follow such things that became and expensive exercise in futility, as it was eventually acknowledged (more like forced to acknowledge!) that the Sigg bottles liner ALSO had BPA as part of the liner at that time. Now I drink out of nothing but stainless steel because I have already been exposed to more than my share of toxins because of my profession. It is past time the US ban BPA, and as far as I am concerned the science is in, and it is a less-than-healthy product.

George ElyApr 6 2012 06:17 PM

The "Lincoln" quote is still valid. It would be valid if Alfred E. Newman said it. Maybe we need to set up independent labs and press to counter the US Government (the best money can buy). We're no better than hamsters in a cage. The average aboriginal spends around 20 hours a week in pursuit of their survival - those primitive savages.... The difference is that we spend the extra time 20 - 40 additional hours working to support technologies that are of questionable value.

Bob RobbinsApr 6 2012 08:31 PM

Unfortunately the biggest source of BPA for shoppers in stores is the cash register tape. Just think of the poor cashier.

Phil KraemerApr 7 2012 12:11 AM

Worth noting

Alberta HarbuttApr 7 2012 01:20 PM

We all knew long ago about the lining of tin
cans containing the same substance that's
been banned with plastic bottles.
The FDA knows this; has known for a long
time. However, we know FDA is feeling
pressure from manufacturers who don't
want to have to change what they're doing.
It's nothing but corporate pressure that's
holding this back. PLEASE TAKE A STRONGER STANCE AND GET SOME
LAWYERS IN ON THIS!

Comments are closed for this post.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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