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The week from hell for BPA

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This post was written by EWG's Jovana Ruzicic and Alex Formuzis

Beginning last weekend, the food and chemical industries began what could only be described as a "week from hell." An email that included the minutes from a May 28 strategy meeting of their respective Washington lobbyists and spin doctors on how to burnish the image of BPA in the media and kill efforts to move BPA legislation in California somehow wound up in articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Washington Post. Bummer.

Success in CA Senate - despite industry's underhanded tactics And, to make matters worse, yesterday the California State Senate passed legislation that would actually protect future generations of babies from further exposure to the toxic hormone disrupting chemical by removing it as an ingredient in baby bottles, sippy cups, formula and food containers for children 3 and younger. That's a shame.

It seems the plans to implement "fear tactics" and targeting pregnant women, young children and minorities with the specter of 'no more baby food' and sky high food prices if BPA wasn't part of the daily diet didn't have the sway industry had hoped on the majority of the California Senate. The upper chamber ultimately stood on the side of California's families and passed the Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act (SB 797), authored by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and sponsored by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

If this measure becomes the law of California not only will future generations of babies born and raised in the state be safe as a result, but California's actions will make it almost impossible for the federal government not to take action to impose a nationwide restriction on the how the chemical can be used.

Congress puts the heat on industry As if both of these defeats weren't enough for the chemical and food guys, yesterday Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee's oversight subcommittee, announced plans to investigate the skullduggery of the food and chemical lobbyists and called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reassess its previous decision that low-dose exposure to BPA posed no health risks.

It must be nice to be The Chairman.

Less than 24 hours after Chairman Waxman and Rep. Stupak sent their letters to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the Chairman John Rost of The North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA), who attended the now infamous gathering at DC's Cosmos Club when industry hatched its "fear tactics" strategy, we're seeing action.The FDA has announced plans for a top-down review of the agency's previous deliberations on BPA with a goal to be finished within weeks, and Mr. Rost and NAMPA have hired a crisis consultant, according to today's article by Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Regarding the fate of Senator Pavley's BPA bill in California: it now must be considered by the General Assembly, where last year the chemical industry was able to kill a similar measure, afterward throwing a big shindig to celebrate another year of BPA-laced baby bottles available on store shelves in California.

As the sponsor of the bill, I can assure readers that EWG will not stop our efforts to see it signed by the Governor, nor will we let up on industry's shenanigans. It's important that any lawmakers on the fence about this bill understand just who they'll be standing with when it comes time to vote.

Photo credit: GETTY

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