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Poisoning for Profit

07/02/2009

Fast Company Magazine had a fantastic 9 page article written in their February 2009 issue by David Case. We’ve all heard the concerns around BPA and I’m sure most of us are happy to find the label “BPA-Free!” on many products now. This article just went deeper into the background of the issue.

I always tend to suspect conspiracy and money rule when I hear about government agencies deciding one way or another about a public health concern, but this article confirms my suspicions. In a nutshell, the argument against BPA which is found lining canned foods, in plastic baby bottles, containers, cell phones, DVDs, CDs, etc. (it’s an ingredient in polycarbonate which is a near shatterproof plastic) has been put into 2 camps: scientists who simply study the effects of what happens when BPA is around and scientists and panels of people whose paychecks pretty much come from donations and fees from industry producers of BPA – and they get pretty nice paychecks.

Over 100 independently conducted studies prove severe concerns with BPA including infertility, cancer, hyperactivity, aggression, decreased maternal feelings, and early onset of puberty depending on the exposure and dose of exposure. A baby drinking formula from a plastic baby bottle is at the worst risk – but even a breastfed baby and mature adults are at risk from the harmful chemical.

BPA produces a sort of fake estrogen. Fake hormones can help or kill an organ its targeting, as any MD knows.

14 industry conducted studies show “little to no harm in everyday levels of BPA exposure.” Several such studies used rats that are genetically bred to be resistant to fake hormones. As in, these rats can tolerate 100 times more fake estrogen than a human female can. There’s quite a few millions and hundred thousands being tossed around as well in the industry, and towards the FDA, that lovely government agency that supposedly can find nothing wrong with anything.

Did you know the FDA accepted and failed to disclose a 5 million dollar donation from a former medical-device executive opposed to BPA becoming regulated? The FDA deemed BPA “safe” even in the face of severe criticism and scientific evidence proving otherwise. A substantial portion of their budget comes from fees paid to them from companies registering new products.

Then there’s the EPA – one you would hope would be SLIGHTLY more unbiased and trying to get toxic concerns out of our country and away from our environment. But in 33 years, they have only been able to ban 5 chemicals as toxic. In 1996, Congress enacted that the EPA screen industrial chemicals to determine if they have endocrine system effects (like BPA does) but 9 years after the deadline for them to begin screening – not ONE chemical has been screened.

A Harvard Center for Risk Analysis panel was paid to review the facts and come up with a correct and unbiased judgement once and  for all. They studied both sides but failed to note the irregularities (like resistant rats) of the industry studies and did not include even  some scientific studies on humans that prove BPA harms the endocrine system and has been directly linked back to ovarian cysts. Of  the 12 panel members, 4 stepped out because the end ruling stated that there was “no consistent affirmative evidence of low-dose BPA effects.” 1 retracted their participation shortly thereafter. Why did these 5 step away from this decision? Because they did not feel comfortable with that conclusion, disagreeing with the manner in which the final report was prepared. Should I also mention that top donors to this supposedly bipartisan center include Dow (BPA producer), Shell (BPA producer) and the industry association American Chemistry Council? Or that they are known to operate under conflicts of interest? For instance, a study conducted on cell phone usage (paid for by AT&T) during driving supposedly proved that productivity outweighed the cost of accidents, a ruling that was overturned 3 years later by the SAME RESEARCHERS, this time funded by Harvard.

The average 6 year old eating canned food and using polycarbonate tableware is exposed to approximately 14.7 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. At this level of toxic exposure to the chemical BPA, a 6 year old child has the potential for the following health concerns: decrease in male sperm production, increase in prostate size, increase in aggressive behavior, early onset of puberty in females, decrease in maternal behavior, and altered immune function. At 30 micrograms per day, we reach hyperactivity and eventually altered social behaviors.

What are the worst conduits for passing BPA into our systems? Lining on food and drink cans (the alternative is much more expensive and has a shorter shelf life and cannot be used for acidic foods like tomatoes), heated plastic containers (all my Tupperware is suddenly looking pretty awful to me) and polycarbonate table wear (anything used to house liquids). Even dishwashing your plastic containers will allow it to leach out into your food or drinks.

I tend to agree with the class action suits against the makers of BPA when they cry that the industry is poisoning infants and children for profit. And worse still, science is being pushed aside for the big bucks even in the government agencies supposedly there to protect us from these toxic health concerns.

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