A lobbying group on the payroll of the chemical industry is launching a public relations blitz aimed at derailing California's proposal to ban Bisphenol A in products designed for babies and children under the age of 3. California is among about 12 states to consider banning Bisphenol A, since the federal government has been slow to act on a growing list of concerns.
Independent research has uncovered worrying qualities to Bisphenol A; it mimics hormones, could affect normal development and reproduction and would have its most dramatic effects on young bodies undergoing rapid development. The list of potential effects is long and damning: breast and prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, brain and liver damage.
In April, Canada became the first nation in the world to label Bisphenol A potentially hazardous. In the United States, top-level scientists at the National Toxicology Program have raised concerns. The Food and Drug Administration has appointed a panel to review the chemical's safety; until now, however, the FDA has favored hand-picked scientific reviews endorsed by the industry, rather than those peer reviewed by independent scientists. Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have pledged to phase out the sale of products containing Bisphenol A.
But the plastics industry stands to lose profits if the chemical, an ingredient in certain plastics and in the lining of canned goods, is banned. About 7 billion pounds of BPA are produced each year. That explains how the industry could spend $2.2 million in the first half of 2008 lobbying to protect its profits against challenges, as elected officials take up concerns over the likes of Bisphenol A and phthalates.
Typically, the industry's ad campaign is over the top. Don't worry about your health, worry about your shopping experience seems to be the message, according to the Orange County Register:
Mailers and ads appearing in newspapers across the state depict an empty grocery cart in the desert and warn that if BPA is banned, canned food and beverages might be vulnerable to spoilage or contamination. Food products, the ads say, could disappear from grocery store shelves even though "rigorous scientific reviews" conclude the products are safe.
"Maybe that's why no other state in the country bans BPA," the ads say.
The Register does a good job explaining why the claims in this American Chemistry Council ad campaign are largely bogus. One might add: Unethical.
This Bill Moyers Journal video offers great background on the issue:
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