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Canada Bans BPA; US FDA Under Attack from Critics, Scientists and Lawmakers

The FDA again throws it’s bloated-bureaucratic weight around to protect the chemical companies in direct opposition to the health, well-being and concern of the American people. Canada banned BPA this past weekend, but our U.S. scientists still proclaim it to be generally safe?  Come on!  Not only do we have the best Congress money can by, we obviously have the best bureaucrats and scientists money can buy!

While Canada declared a ban on bisphenol-A, the United States' Food and Drug Administration asserts its safety

While Canada declared a ban on bisphenol-A, the United States' Food and Drug Administration continues to assert its safety

Critics slam chemical report
Scientists note flaws in bisphenol A study; lawmaker wants ban

By SUSANNE RUST and MEG KISSINGER

Posted: Oct. 24, 2008

Lawmakers, scientists and advocacy groups intensified their criticism Thursday of a government report declaring bisphenol A to be safe.

• A group of 36 international scientists issued a blistering assessment of the Food and Drug Administration report, calling it seriously flawed.

• A congressman whose committee oversees the FDA wrote the commissioner, renewing his call for a ban of the controversial chemical.

• An advocacy group demanded that the FDA cancel its meeting next week to discuss the draft.

The Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that the draft was done primarily by representatives of the plastics industry and those with an interest in downplaying concerns about the chemical. Bisphenol A, used in baby bottles and other hard plastic, has been detected in the urine of 93% of Americans tested. Hundreds of studies have found it to cause health problems in laboratory animals, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hyperactivity, autism and reproductive failure.

The newspaper found reviews of studies in the FDA draft had been supplied by a consulting firm that also worked for chemical makers. A review of studies that was included in the draft had been commissioned by Stephen Hentges, executive director of the American Chemistry Council’s group on bisphenol A. The council represents chemical companies and lobbies Congress on their behalf.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog health group, issued a statement Thursday saying the newspaper’s most recent report proves a glaring conflict of interest that should render the draft meaningless.

“An agency that once epitomized independent, impartial expertise in the service of public health has degenerated to a disgraced stenographer for the chemical and plastics industry,” said Ken Cook, president of the organization.

The report was the second to raise questions about conflicts of interest regarding the agency. The newspaper reported earlier this month that Martin Philbert, chairman of the subcommittee reviewing the draft, is founder and co-director of a science center that received a $5 million donation from an anti-regulation activist who considers bisphenol A to be “perfectly safe.” Charles Gelman, the donor, said he discussed his views about bisphenol A with Philbert on several occasions.

Philbert’s subcommittee is expected to release its review of the FDA draft in the next few days. It is scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31 to discuss the results. Cook’s group renewed its request to the FDA on Thursday to cancel that meeting. The FDA declined to comment.

Lawmaker demands ban

U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who serves on the committee that oversees the FDA, sent a letter to Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach on Thursday citing the Journal Sentinel reports, and asking for the agency to follow Canada’s lead and declare the chemical to be toxic and ban it from use in children’s products. Canada on Saturday became the first country to declare the chemical a toxin.

The FDA also declined to comment on Markey’s letter.

The FDA’s draft, released in August, found no cause for worry about bisphenol A, which is found in thousands of household products, including baby bottles, infant formula containers and the lining of aluminum cans.

That finding is at odds with the conclusions of the FDA’s own advisers from the National Toxicology Program. The NTP announced in September that the chemical is of some concern for effects on the development of the prostate gland and brain, and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children. The NTP also found some concern for the neurodevelopment of young children, infants and fetuses.

Article blasts FDA draft

Also on Thursday, a group of three dozen scientists from around the world issued a scathing review of the FDA’s draft, calling it misguided and scientifically flawed.

The article, which is published online in the government-sponsored journal Environmental Health Perspectives, says the draft used guidelines and protocols that gave an unfair advantage to industry scientists.

The guidelines, known as “Good Laboratory Practice,” give greater credibility to studies that use more animals. National Institutes of Health guidelines limit the number of animals that can be tested by government scientists and those who work for many publicly funded institutions.

The FDA’s task force report on bisphenol A dismissed or gave lesser credence to hundreds of studies that showed the chemical caused harm. These studies were conducted by government and academic scientists, using state-of-the-art techniques and methods but did not have the stamp of Good Laboratory Practices.

Instead, the agency relied on a handful of industry-funded studies that had the stamp, even though they were flawed in other ways.

Two of the studies accepted by the FDA were rejected by its advisory group at the National Toxicology Program.

Another industry study, accepted by the FDA and called the “gold standard” of studies, was criticized by an earlier review by the National Toxicology Program. That panel said the study used a strain of rat that was insensitive to the effects of estrogen, and therefore wouldn’t detect bisphenol A, a chemical that was developed as a synthetic estrogen.

Another FDA-approved study, also funded by industry, used protocols that were out of date and methods that wouldn’t screen for the effects at low doses.

“The bottom line is that each of the four major studies cited by the FDA were flawed,” said J. Peterson Myers, lead author of the critical review and chief scientist of the nonprofit group Environmental Health Sciences.The standard used by the FDA “does not guarantee quality, reliability or validity in the scientific process,” he said.

David Michaels, a professor of occupational and environmental health at George Washington University and who was not an author of the review, said the regulatory process clearly is flawed.

“The discord between the National Toxicology Program, Health Canada and the FDA spotlights the limitation of the FDA’s approach,” Michaels said.

Sales of the chemical reached $6 billion worldwide in 2007.

Tiffany Harrington, spokeswoman for the American Chemistry Council, said her group was unable to respond to the scientists’ article Thursday.

RELATED:

That Chemical Cocktail is Killing You: More on BPA by Withonebreath

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2008 in Current Health News, Food, Health & Wellness

 

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That Chemical Cocktail is Killing You: More on Bisphenol-A

A health-conscious consumer has a difficult time avoiding the ever-growing chemical cocktail of food additives and preservatives these days. One particular chemical, Bisphenol-A (or BPA, for short), has been getting quite a lot of bad press lately.

BPA is a synthesized organic compound (far different from the “organic” label you find on certain foods), which has been “suspected of being hazardous to humans since the 1930’s”, but has only recently gained the attention from healthy-food advocates, scientists and medical doctors that it deserves. It is synthesized from acetone (the main ingredient in nail polish remover and paint thinner) and phenol (a known antiseptic also found in Chloraseptic, whose scent is also known as the “hospital smell”), and is used in the production of certain plastics, especially polycarbonate plastics, as well as water bottles, baby bottles, medical supplies, lenses and as a plastic lining in many canned goods.

Bayer, DOW and G.E. are some of the biggest producers of BPA, producing most of the United States’ one million tons of BPA in 2004.

Bisphenol-A has been shown to have negative health effects, acting as an endocrine disruptor and hormone mimicker. Because BPA can mimic hormones such as estrogen at a very low dose, scientists are worried about the bioaccumulative and extended exposure effects of this chemical on developing adolescents. Already, some studies are drawing links between BPA and breast cancer, obesity, “fetal and infant brain development and activity”, decline in testosterone, and increase in prostate size and cancer.

A study performed by the Center for Disease Control, between 1988 and 1994, found BPA in 95% of the urine samples it tested from adults. Another study in 2003 and 2004 confirmed those results, finding BPA in 93% of the samples taken from adults and children. Studies have also shown that BPA can cross the placenta and become concentrated in the developing fetus.

Given the rise in prevalence of prostate and breast cancer, as well as behavioral and developmental issues in children in recent years, it seems prudent to call for a moratorium in the use of this chemical until more is learned regarding its safety.

In the meantime, health advocates suggest limiting your exposure to all plastics, canned soft drinks, and canned tomatoes. In my household, we own a water filtration unit to avoid purchasing bottled water, and we store the water in reused one-gallon glass apple juice jugs. We never heat foods up in plastic, and we do not ever use a microwave. We also avoid soft drinks, canned beer, and buy jarred tomatoes when available. In addition, we only rarely eat out (you never know what foods or additives restaurants use) and instead cook fresh, wholesome, organic meals at home. Finally, we changed all of our cleaning products and personal hygiene products to further reduce the chemical cocktail we are exposed to.

Water bottles like those above often leach BPA

Water bottles like these above often leach Bisphenol-A, an estrogen mimicking chemical responsible for a variety of negative health effects.

Anxieties in a Bottle (or a Can)

U.S. News & World Report, Deborah Kotz
Published September 29, 200

When it comes to household health risks, baby bottles made of hard plastic may already be on your radar screen. But how about canned tomatoes and soft drinks? These, too, contain the worrisome chemical bisphenol A–it’s found in the substance that coats the inner surfaces of metal cans. And some adults, like infants, may be in harm’s way. A landmark study of more than 1,400 adults, published in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those with the most BPA in their urine had nearly three times the risk of heart disease and more than twice the risk of diabetes as those who had the lowest levels. “Even those with the highest BPA levels still had levels way below the currently established ‘safe’ level,” says study coauthor David Melzer of the University of Exeter in England.

While the report doesn’t prove that BPA causes these diseases, it adds strength to previous laboratory findings: One study found that elevated BPA levels trigger an excessive release of insulin in mice, enough to lead to prediabetes. Another, on human fat cells, found that BPA suppresses the release of a heart-protective hormone.

Babies are still thought to be more at risk than adults. Through bottles and formula, they get more BPA exposure on a per-pound basis, says Sarah Janssen, a physician and science fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. They also can’t metabolize the chemical as quickly, so it accumulates in their bodies, which may pose problems for fragile developing organ systems. The government’s National Toxicology Program recently concluded that there’s enough evidence to express “some concern” over BPA’s detrimental effects on a child’s brain and reproductive organs.

Still in use. So why is BPA still allowed in food packaging? While consumer groups have issued calls to ban it, the Food and Drug Administration has declined to do so, declaring last month that “products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels … are below those that may cause health effects.” This decision astounded environmental health activists who accused the FDA of relying on only two studies, both funded by plastic manufacturers, out of more than 700 that have been published.

There’s talk in Congress of overriding the FDA policy by passing laws to restrict the use of BPA. Industry representatives, however, argue this isn’t the solution: “Acidic foods will corrode the metal of cans, so you have to have a coating in there,” says Steven Hentges, a chemist and BPA expert with the American Chemistry Council, a trade group. “Finding an alternative liner that works as well and is safer would not be easy.”

Some companies, though, have already responded to consumer demand. Born Free makes plastic, BPA-free baby bottles, CamelBak recently switched over its water bottles, and Eden Foods cans its beans with a plant-based liner. People can also substitute beverages, soups, and vegetables packaged in glass or cardboard containers for those packed in cans, says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. She also recommends using powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid. A recent report from EWG found that the former contains less BPA.

Related Post:

The Body Burden: Toxic Chemicals in our Bodies

Also See:

The Environmental Working Group – www.ewg.org

Scientific American – Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potentially Harmful Chemical

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2008 in Health & Wellness

 

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