Is it safe? Is it dangerous? If it isn’t safe, how come it has been used for so long? There is so much controversy centered around Bisphenol A. As most everybody now knows, BPA is a chemical that hardens plastics and is used in all sorts of consumer products. It is used by canners, plastic producers, and many other everyday manufacturers.
Where did BPA come from? In 1891, it was first reported. Today it is used because it makes thinner plastics shatterproof (among other things). Five companies in the U.S. manufacture it, including General Electric and Bayer Material Sciences.
The safety of BPA has been questioned since the 1930s but the current controversy started when in 1997 scientists discovered that BPA was damaging the reproductive organs of rats. The scientific community has been running tests since and has been issuing warnings. In April 2008 the U.S. Noational Toxicology Program issued a report that verified there was cause for concern. So…the public got concerned and the FDA stepped in to quell their fears. The FDA has said numerous times that BPA is safe. And why wouldn’t we believe them? It is their job to protect us, right?
Of course, as I found during my research on the FDA, they do not do their own testing and must rely on the creators of chemicals to submit reports. But, I’m sure that the manufacturers would let us know if it was unsafe (yeah right).
So, is it safe? Some say yes, some say no. Consumers can get a good summary of the situation thanks to an easy-to-understand article by The Associated Press that came out yesterday. One thing is for certain, the FDA needs an overhaul. Obviously this system is not working, what with the melamine being found in more and more products and the fact that their own subcommittee stated their conclusion was flawed. The FDA is asking companies to self-police. I ask you, what true capitalist company is going to admit that their product is harmful if they can get it past the FDA? And there wouldn’t be any consequences if preemption is allowed. All they have to do is tweak the data and get if passed by the FDA and then they are free from liability. What a horror. Something must be done, but what?
At least the FDA is being investigated regarding it’s relationship with manufacturers and users of BPA. There may be an issue of objectivity. Many people are upset that only industry-funded lab tests were used to determine safety, but they obviously haven’t read my blog and learned that the FDA does NOT DO THEIR OWN TESTING. They don’t have the money or the manpower. It is a broken system!
Steve Brozak and Larry Jindra, M.D., wrote an opinion on ABC News about the FDA and the need for reorganization. I don’t know much about bureaucracy, but I do know that too many cooks in the kitchen ruins the whole meal. Splitting the agency is a good idea, but what would really have an impact (in my naive, idealist opinion) is accountability.
People are looking at the FDA and saying “shame on you,” but what about the manufacturers, companies, and businesses who are actually responsible for putting it on the market? Why aren’t we blaming the people who skew the data? Why aren’t we blaming the liars and the cheats? Short cuts are taken in regard to safety so that producers can lower prices. We consumers demand low prices because most people are not willing to pay for quality. Well, we get what we pay for don’t we? Sorry, went off on a tangent. Consumerism isn’t the issue here.
The issue: Is it safe? Who knows? They say that it damages reproductive systems, well, I’m sorry, but generations have been exposed to BPA. Are people still getting pregnant? Yes. Is the population still going up? Yes. Are more and more people having to have medical help getting pregnant? Well… actually, yes. Invitro-fertilization is more and more popular and many couples take fertility medication in order to get pregnant. Is this just because the technology is more available to us, or are these measures truly necessary because we’ve been damaged?
The answer: we may never know! But we’re going to try to find out. Tomorrow the FDA’s Science Board will meet to discuss the controversy. I wonder what they will say, but keep in mind that it may take 2-5 years to complete additional research.
What do you think about all this? I am very interested to know what is going through your mind right now.