The scientific research that BPA bans ignore

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In the current issue of The American, science writer Jon Entine takes a look at the comprehensive list of scientific institutions world-wide that have found no cause for concern about bisphenol A (BPA), and asks why politicians are nevertheless imposing bans on the substance. Anti-BPA campaigners have created a straw man in the way they portray the research landscape, Entine observes. And, he notes, Political systems often operate with limited information and short time horizons, while much of science is complex and evolving.

Entine, however, takes the time to explain the misconceptions about BPA, as well as to walk his readers through the research conducted by institutions that include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and the European Food Safety Authority, who have found that normal exposure to BPA is unlikely to cause adverse health effects in humans. No governmental science-based advisory board in the world has concluded that BPA is harmful, he points out.

And Entine goes a step beyond his already thorough consideration of the misconceptions too frequently propagated by misinformed journalists and activists. After explaining the research demonstrating BPA s safety, he points out the ill-conceived trend of replacing BPA with other substances: Businesses that adopt an alternative are replacing an inexpensive, well-tested substance that has limited but identifiable risk (BPA) with a more expensive and untested chemical that has other, yet unidentified, health and environmental impacts, he writes.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom adds, There is absolutely no way to predict whether BPA substitutes would be more or less toxic, estrogenic or anything at all. Besides, any data obtained from testing substitutes would be dwarfed by the 50 years of safety data already available for BPA. This is like a cat chasing its tail.

Regarding the activists who continue to agitate for BPA s prohibition, and the politicians who cater to them, ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan observes, The science is irrelevant to these people.

But, speaking of that science: The results of the most recent study of BPA have been announced, and there continues to be no cause for alarm. Japan s Research Institute of Science for Safety and Sustainability has been investigating BPA since 2005; their latest update, following a two-generation reproductive study in mice, is that there were no toxic effects on the reproductive potential of offspring. This study is just one on the lengthy list Jon Entine examines in his article none of which has garnered the media attention that misconceptions about the compound have.

Unfortunately, as ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross notes, Irresponsible journalists will try to scare the public, either out of ignorance or a desire to attract attention. Politicians behave similarly. But, says Dr. Whelan, Both their actions and the continuing debate on BPA are irrational. We at ACSH have looked at the scientific evidence and know that there is no substance to their claims.