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Federal Panel’s Report on Food Contaminant Flunks Basic Science

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, August 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 — The National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) is assessing the health risks of the compound BPA, a toxic ingredient in plastics that contaminates an alarming number of packaged foods and is widely found in humans. But the CERHR assessment — prepared in part by a contractor since fired over concerns about conflicts of interest — fails to meet the most basic scientific standards, even as independent scientists have declared BPA a clear risk to human health.

Today (Aug 6) NIH begins a three-day public meeting to discuss the BPA assessment. The CERHR's BPA assessment project has been plagued with concerns since its inception; earlier this year NIH fired Sciences International, the contractor that prepared the initial draft of the report.

A new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis, drawing on reports from nine independent experts, finds that the CERHR draft health assessment for BPA fails to meet the most basic scientific standards. It contains hundreds of potential errors of fact and interpretation, inconsistencies, and biases.

The independent scientists who reviewed the latest CERHR draft documented pervasive and fundamental errors throughout, identifying almost 300 potential errors and 195 instances of incomplete reviews, as well as at least 48 basic inconsistencies.

What’s more, just last week another panel of 38 internationally recognized BPA experts, also funded by NIH, released a consensus statement on BPA health risks. This so-called Chapel Hill panel, which published five peer-reviewed papers related to its findings, concluded that exposure to BPA presents a clear risk to human health.

“The Chapel Hill panel and independent scientists agree that exposure to BPA is a clear risk to human health,” said Anila Jacob, MD, MPH, a senior scientist at EWG. “The Chapel Hill panel’s review adhered to the highest scientific standards, but the CERHR panel’s evaluation has been riddled with problems ranging from conflict of interest to inaccurate interpretation of research.”

EWG’s comments and analysis of the corrupt CERHR report sent to CERHR’s Director, Dr. Michael D. Shelby, as well as the statement issued last week by EWG Executive Director Richard Wiles in response to the Chapel Hill report, are available at www.ewg.org.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The group’s research on Bisphenol A is available online at http://www.ewg.org/featured/218.

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