Chemical industry steps in at last minute to stop ban on BPA in baby bottles, despite growing calls to restrict children’s BPA exposure
Today the U.S. Senate failed to consider a ban on the toxic chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in baby bottles and infant feeding cups. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D- Calif., planned to offer the ban as an amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act. As recently as yesterday, there was enormous support for the amendment from both sides of the aisle, but intense lobbying at the 11th hour by the American Chemistry Council blocked its introduction.
“It’s a sad day when the chemical industry muscles out children’s health and safety,” said Janet Nudelman, policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund, which led a national coalition that advocated for the ban. “Once again we see the American Chemistry Council prioritize the profits of chemical companies over the public’s health. It is not fair that our nation’s children are on the losing side of this equation.”
BPA is a synthetic estrogen linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems that is used in some plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, as well as in the lining of food cans and the lids of baby food jars. More than 200 scientific studies show that BPA exposure, particularly during infancy, is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects in later life. In addition to breast cancer, BPA has been linked to prostate cancer, birth defects, infertility in men, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity. The main route of human exposure is through the leaching of BPA from food and beverage containers. Once in food, BPA moves quickly into the body. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable because their bodies are still developing.
Sen. Feinstein lamented the loss: “The evidence against BPA is mounting, especially its harmful effects on babies and children who are still developing. I very much regret that the chemical industry puts a higher priority on selling chemicals than on the health of infants. I will not cease in my efforts to remove BPA from products where it can harm human health, and I urge consumers to vote with their pocketbooks by refusing to purchase products that contain BPA.”
Sen. Feinstein’s efforts were supported in the House by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., along with organizations representing 40 million Americans, including the Breast Cancer Fund, National WIC Association, the Natural Resources Defense Fund, Consumer’s Union, Environmental Working Group, the Blue-Green Alliance, the American Nurses Association and U.S. PIRG. The amendment was a response to mounting scientific evidence that exposure to even extremely low levels of BPA can negatively impact health.
BPA has been banned from baby bottles and sippy cups in three countries and seven states, and at least six states plan to introduce similar legislation in the coming year. In the marketplace, chemical manufacturer Sunoco refuses to sell BPA to companies intending to use it to make products for kids under 3, six baby bottle manufacturers have pledged to stop using the chemical, and retailers including CVS, Kmart, Safeway, Toys R Us and Walmart have announced they will stop selling BPA-containing baby bottles. Still, many BPA-containing products remain on store shelves—especially in low-income neighborhoods and dollar stores.
“A growing number of scientists, legislators and businesses are joining with consumers to say that BPA has no place in infant food packaging,” said Nudelman. “Now, Congress must catch up. We need federal action to ensure that all children—regardless of where they live or where their parents shop—will be protected.”
The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer.www.breastcancerfund.org