business news in context, analysis with attitude

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a “draft assessment” saying that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in household products such as baby bottles and food containers, does not pose a health hazard when people are exposed to small amounts.

The Washington Post notes that the FDA finding “stands in contrast to more than 100 studies performed by government scientists and university laboratories that have found health concerns associated with bisphenol A (BPA). Some studies have linked the chemical to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.”

According to the story, the FDA assessment – which is similar to a finding by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – was “welcomed” by the American Chemistry Council, which agreed with the results.

However, “FDA critic Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, said the agency lacks sufficient data to declare the chemical safe.
‘Clearly, their effort was to minimize people being concerned about this,’ Zuckerman said. ‘It just seems that whenever there is an opportunity to look at a new, important issue, they just seem to be siding with industry's point of view’.”

And, the Post notes, “Canadian regulators recently decided to ban the controversial compound in baby products. Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, and Toys R Us, the largest toy seller, have said that by January their shelves will be free of children's products containing BPA.

“Democrats in Congress have introduced one bill that would ban the chemical in products intended for use by children younger than 8, and another that would restrict its use in food containers. Neither bill has advanced beyond the committee stage."
KC's View:
This is one of those cases where, not being a scientist, I have no idea who is right on this issue. But I do know this – the FDA has consistently undermined its own authority and credibility, and so I tend to pay more attention to the critics and naysayers (especially when those naysayers include not just political gadflies, but Walmart and Canada.)

I’m guessing I’m not alone. And so, the question becomes what is the over/under on when more concrete evidence comes out about BPA that suggests the FDA yet again wasn't doing its job?