The Continued Use of Bisphenol A in the U.S. Food Supply

The chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic and resin compound used in food can lining and hard plastic food and water containers, is prevalent in the U.S. food supply. “Over 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low-doses”… “Yet not a single regulatory agency has updated safety standards to reflect this low dose toxicity” (www.ewg/reports/bisphenola).

Independent laboratory tests have found BPA, which is “associated with birth defects of the male and female reproductive systems, in over half of 97 cans of name-brand fruit, vegetables, soda, and other commonly eaten canned goods,” according to a study of the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg/reports/bisphenola).

What is the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when it comes to protecting the U.S. consumer from the potential cancer causing horror of BPA? Well, after two decades of mounting scientific evidence showing the toxic danger of low doses of this chemical, the FDA and the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Health announced early in 2010 that they “have some concern about the potential effects of bisphenol A on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children,” (www.salemnews.com/articles/January272010/bisphenol_as.php). Clearly the FDA should ban use of the chemical in our food supply, but instead the agency expresses its “concern about potential effects…”

On December 21, 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill giving new powers to the FDA to increase inspections aimed at preventing outbreaks of disease in the nation’s food production system. Two days earlier the Senate  passed the same bill, but not before defeating an amendment offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, which would have set a six month window for banning BPA from baby bottles and children’s drinking cups. Even this noble effort to protect our infants and small children was vigorously resisted by lobbyists for the American chemical manufacturers, and therefore defeated by their Republican allies in the Senate.

We should never forget the words of former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who said, “The Business of America is Business.” And with the annual U.S. production of BPA exceeding a billion pounds, we’re dealing with very big business. Is it possible that segments of our corporate business structure view the production of potential cancer causing products as simply a legitimate part of doing business? It appears so.

Currently, according to thedailygreen.com, the Weinberg Group, a lobbying firm representing both the tobacco and chemical industries, is conducting a 10 million dollar multi-media offensive to prevent any changes in the food related uses of bisphenol A, in spite of the continually mounting scientific evidence establishing BPA as toxic to humans, particularly fetuses, infants, and small children  (www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bisphenol-a-tobacco-lobbyists-47082401).

Evidence suggests that it can take many years, and sometimes the loss of countless lives, before the public achieves even partial health related victories over intransigent multi-billion dollar industries. And the current twenty-year struggle against the potentially poisoning impact of bisphenol A, like the very long war waged against the tobacco industry, seems to be a case in point.

However, we, the public, must fight the continued presence of BPA in the food supply by making our voices heard whenever and wherever possible. Here are a few things we can do immediately to help protect ourselves from the contamination.

  • Stop heating plastic in microwave ovens. Use glassware instead of plastic.
  • Stop storing food in plastic containers, especially those imprinted with the number 7.
  • Stop drinking water from bottles with the number 7 imprint.
  • Use glass for storage whenever possible, and remember that glass made in the USA is your safest bet since heavy metals are found in some foreign glass.

Our primary protection against the excesses of the big corporate market place is the hue and cry of consumers, buttressed by the repetitive findings of honest science, and the efforts of the most noble and persistent advocates amongst us. Only then will our politicians and regulatory agencies muster the necessary courage to resist corporate dollars and act forcefully in the public interest.

I implore all of us to be ever vigilant against the excesses of the market place, irrespective of where they occur, whether in our food supply, medications, home mortgages, recreational pursuits, or elsewhere. We owe ourselves this vigilance, and we owe it to our children, and to future generations to come.

John A. Martin, Jr.,

12/30/10

About John A. Martin, Jr.

John A. Martin, Jr. was raised in Berkeley, California, where he later spent the bulk of his professional career, as the general director of a social service agency. His life journey has included four years of service in the U.S. Air Force, B.A. and M.A. degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of Omaha respectively, post Master's degree study at Tufts University and the University of California at Berkeley, and a wonderfully satisfying professional life working in anti-poverty programs, social service, education, and civil rights organizations. Martin is currently retired and resides in Novato, CA.
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2 Responses to The Continued Use of Bisphenol A in the U.S. Food Supply

  1. Maureen York says:

    AUSTRALIA’S food safety watchdog has confirmed the presence of “very low” levels of Bisphenol A (BPA), the industrial chemical now facing bans overseas, in the nation’s food supply.

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