November 1, 2008
Those watching the news have surely heard about the BPA controversy. BPA is a common product used in plastics, including hard plastic water bottles, baby bottles and the linings of soda cans. It has been used for years, but now is under fire for being the potential cause of health problems, including early onset of puberty and cancer.
In August, the FDA released findings that BPA didn’t pose an immediate health risk. The FDA’s findings contradicted more than 100 studies. Now those findings are now being criticized within the agency. Yesterday, the FDA’s Science Committee voted unanimously to accept a report criticizing any findings that BPA is safe and called upon the FDA to consider more studies. The report criticized the FDA for relying too heavily on BPA studies funded by manufacturers.
There are also criticisms that the FDA isn’t looking out for the consuming public.
The margins of safety defined by FDA as adequate are not adequate,” said Martin Philbert, chairman of a seven-member subcommittee commissioned by the FDA’s Science Board to review the agency’s findings regarding bisphenol A.
But critics say that more studies only means more time that BPA products are on shelves:
“The FDA is once again taking up the traditional call of the chemical industry that “more research is needed to settle all uncertainties before we take regulatory action” — delay, delay, delay!” said Frederick vom Saal, a leading expert on BPA and a professor or reproductive biology and neurobiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Canadian government has already banned BPA in baby bottles, and many U.S. states are considering similar measures. At the same time, many retailers such as Walmart have pulled products containing BPA off their shelves.
In the FDA’s defense, they do appear to already be conducting additional tests to address the problems of low-dose exposures to BPA. However, it is unclear about how this issue will go forward.
Again, getting into lawyer mode, this controversy says a lot about complete immunity preemption. It is becoming abundantly clear that the FDA and other federal governmental regulatory bodies do not have the will or capability to fully protect the public. Thus, I would think that people would conclude that state tort claims are a necessary aid to help protect the public. And yet, the Bush Administration and others continue to attempt to expand their form of tort reform by pushing for more preemption claims. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.