The Congressional Crusade against BPA

CCF_FacepalmThe latest push to ban bisphenol A (BPA), a common chemical used in some plastics and food and beverage cans, comes not from the usual quacktivists like the “Food Babe” or the Environmental Working (Worry) Group but from perhaps an even less esteemed body: Congress.

Yesterday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Grace Meng (D-NY) reintroduced their deceptively named Ban Poisonous Additives Act  (Get it? “BPA” Act! Congress is so clever!) that would ban the substance, which has been safely used in food packaging for decades. The legislation has already failed once before, but like their activist base, these legislators know that chemical fear-mongering never goes out of style.

Yes, chemicals in their raw form may sound scary, but let’s take a deep breath. Back in the 16th Century, the philosopher Paracelsus made an astute observation: The dose makes the poison. Our exposure to BPA is minuscule—your stomach would literally explode before you consume enough BPA from canned food to be of apparent concern. Authoritative research has consistently debunked the spurious and self-serving evidence that sustains alarmist BPA accusations. The bulk of nearly six decades of peer-reviewed research has certified again and again that BPA is safe as currently used. This year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vindicated BPA for the second time in Toxicological Science. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and health agencies in Europe, Germany, Canada and the United Nations report the same finding.

Despite this scientific consensus, these members of Congress claim that BPA’s dangers are “well-documented.” As we’ve noted above, reputable scientists don’t agree. So who does? A “greatest hits” list of activist groups, some of which, including MomsRisingEnvironmental Working Group, and SafeMinds, have entertained the discredited and extraordinarily dangerous claim that vaccines cause autism.

Instead of listening to activist junk science and taking a chemical by chemical approach to legislation, Congress should focus on giving the scientists at the FDA and EPA more authority to regulate chemical safety by finally updating our national chemical policy.

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