Last week, Canada announced it will ban the chemical “BPA” – a chemical used to make plastic bottles and canned goods. Environmental activists, like the head of the Canadian “Evironmental Defence”, were thrilled:
Kudos to the federal government… We look forward to seeing BPA legally designated as 'toxic' as soon as possible."
But the evidence actually doesn’t show that BPA is toxic. Just today, Europe’s equivalent of the FDA concluded: “the data currently available do not provide convincing evidence of neurobehavioural toxicity of BPA.”
“Some early animal studies produced results suggesting the possibility of adverse effects relevant to human health, but much larger, carefully designed studies in several laboratories have failed to confirm these initial studies.
The initial studies also injected bisphenol A into animals and did not give it by mouth which is the route via which humans are exposed (when ingested, very little bisphenol A ever gets to cells in the body as it is degraded in the gut).
Besides, if BPA really causes cancer, why are cancer incidence rates flat?
So why did Canada – and states like Connecticut and Minnesota – ban BPA? Two FDA scientists -- Ronald J. Lorentzen and David G. Hattan -- write about the bias towards sensationalism:
The disquieting public invocations made by some… researchers about the perils of exposure [to BPA] … galvanize the public debate. In comparison, the deliberative regulatory risk assessment process… may appear superficially insensitive, even banal.
… The resulting unbalanced presentation to the public should not continue.
The FDA is notoriously risk-adverse. When even FDA scientists speak out against the scaremongering, it’s a good reason to think BPA is safe. BPA may even save lives, by preventing food from going bad.