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Call it a case of two steps forward, one step back. I recently wrote about terrific new federal legislation that will ban and/or restrict a host of toxic phthalates in children's toys. And we also just learned that Monsanto is bailing on its misguided bovine growth hormone business. These are both very positive developments but this week has begun with a bit of a setback in the long walk to a healthier world: A newly released draft report on bisphenol-A (BPA) from the FDA, which finds the chemical safe for human consumption.
Sometimes the public health politicking is so transparent that you can see straight through it to the truth waiting on the other side.
I say this because well over 200 independent government and academic studies have reached a decidedly different conclusion -- namely that exposure to this endocrine-disrupting chemical can trigger all kinds of problems from cancer and reproductive disorders to hyperactivity and diabetes. And just two (count 'em, two) studies, both sponsored by the chemical industry, that say there's no problem with a little BPA in your baby formula or your soda pop. See if you can guess which research the FDA emphasized and which it largely ignored.
That's right. In fact, the new FDA draft report is so utterly naked in its bias and so breathtakingly brazen in its complete disregard for both public health and the agency's mission to protect it that even I, a longtime, oft-jaded observer of the regulatory scene, have been stunned speechless by its so-called "findings." This is a gift to the chemical industry that the FDA didn't even bother to wrap.
Predictably, that industry is applauding the report as a model of scientific prudence and regulatory reason. Environmentalists, on the other hand, are justifiably outraged as should be anyone who cares more about human health than manufacturer profits. The good news is that this is a draft version of the report, a work-in-progress released to the public in order to gather comments prior to any revisions that will result in a final document and the official U.S. government view on the subject.
So what do you say? Let's comment. Send yours to:
Office of Science and Health Coordination, Office of the Commissioner
The Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 14B-08
Rockville, MD 20857
or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Make sure to mention that you are submitting comments on the Draft Assessment Of Bisphenol A for Use In Food Contact Applications in response to Food and Drug Administration Docket No. FDA-2008-N-0038: A notice of meeting for the Bisphenol A Subcommittee of the Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration.)