I understand why we take an innocent until proven guilty stance in the courtroom, but I don’t understand why we have this stance with our health. We allow chemicals, synthetic agents and genetically modified organisms to enter our food system based on the understanding that it is safe and then we do the research to determine what the consequences really are.
Bisphenol A (BPA) was discovered to be a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. It is a chemical that is used in the manufacturing of many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles and reusable cups and the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including canned liquid infant formula. This week the FDA announced that it has concerns about the safety of BPAs. Growing scientific evidence has linked the chemical to a host of problems, including cancer, sexual dysfunction and heart disease. Federal officials said they are particularly concerned about BPA’s effect on the development of fetuses, infants and young children. Up until now the American Chemical Council (ACC) has funded research into the safety of BPA. Many people are concerned about the bias of the ACC. The Department of Health and Human Services has established a two year reasearch project that will investigate the safety of BPA. NIH, CDC and the FDA will have $30 million to determine if BPA is safe.
In the mean time the FDA has not ban BPA, nor have they issued a statement saying that products containing BPA should be avoided. The FDA is seeking to increase regulations on the use of BPA but has not taken a strong, public stance on the substance.
While the FDA remains fairly silent in this matter parents and baby stores continue to act based on wide spread concerns about BPA’s safety in baby products. In 2008, Babies R Us and other major retailers told suppliers they would no longer stock baby bottles made with BPA. Last year, the six largest manufacturers of baby bottles announced they would voluntarily stop selling bottles made with BPA to consumers in the United States.
We know that our bodies and the environment are very fragile. Maybe it was not common knowledge 40 years ago, but why has it taken so long to figure out that a synthetic sex hormone might have a huge impact on our bodies. Shatter-proof bottles are great, but at what expense? And to stay in line with the topic of my blog, if the BPA can leech out of the cans and bottles into our food, even at cold tempatures – how much BPA is leeching out of the bottles and cans we are throwing out and what impact does that have on the surrouding environment. I know human health is the most important and research will start with baby food, but we also need to know how BPA impacts the ecosystem.
For more information on BPA please visit the HHS website on BPA: http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/