At long last, the FDA is getting a clue on bisphenol-A (BPA).
After blowing three deadlines to revisit its stance on the endocrine-disrupting chemical, which is found in canned-food liners and many other products, the agency finally spoke on Friday, saying it had "some concern" over BPA's effects on fetuses and children. Setting aside the fact that it's also a concern for adults, this is a huge admission, given that the FDA had always contended that BPA was safe in the past (relying on industry-funded studies).
In its report, the FDA also said it can't regulate the chemical because "current BPA food contact uses" were approved under regulations issued more than 40 years ago that give the agency very limited oversight in the matter.
My first reaction is, Well, jeez, why didn't you just say so in the first place? Here we've all been, waiting with bated breath for years for you to ixnay the stuff, and now you say your hands are tied? As Tom Laskawy puts it on Grist, "this report is a bureaucratic cry for help." What we clearly need, he goes on to say, is for Congress to pass the Senate's Feinstein-Schumer bill (also known as the Ban Poisonous Additives Act).
I agree, and I would end this post right there, but first I want to share something I came across (via Safer Cans) that gives me more hope about the FDA's statement.
This story on Our Stolen Future explains why the phrase "some concern" represents positive repercussions "for all of FDA toxicology, not just BPA." Remember those outdated rules from 40 years ago that the FDA says ties its hands? Apparently government research guidelines are also outdated.
I recommend reading the piece to learn why GLP (good laboratory practices), standardized assays, and large sample sizes aren't necessarily as good as they sound, but the positive take-away is that, according to the authors, the FDA will now consider "all relevant data"—not just studies that, for example, are more like "using binoculars instead of the Hubble Space Telescope to study distant galaxies."
Onward and upward!
Take action: Urge your lawmakers to get on board with the Ban Poisonous Additives Act by signing this petition.