Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts & health tips from EWG. [Privacy]

Chemical Industry Wrote FDA’s Glowing Assessment of BPA

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, October 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that internal documents from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that an agency task force assessment of the toxic plastics chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) “was written largely by the plastics industry and others with a financial stake in the controversial chemical.”

The newspaper reported that the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the Washington-based trade group that represents the $664 billion U.S. chemical industry, commissioned a review of all studies of the neurotoxicity of bisphenol-A and submitted it to the FDA. The FDA then used that report as the foundation for its evaluation of the chemical on neural and behavioral development.”

An FDA assessment made public last August asserted that BPA, a synthetic estrogen and component of polycarbonate and epoxy resin plastics, is safe for use in consumer products, including baby bottles and infant formula containers.

"This latest revelation makes clear that no matter who is in the White House come January, he has to rebuild the FDA,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook. “An agency that once epitomized independent, impartial expertise in the service of public health has degenerated to a disgraced stenographer for the chemical and plastics industry."

The FDA’s stance conflicts with the position of National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program, which last month concluded that people are being exposed to BPA at levels which raise “some concern” for “effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children.”

On Oct. 18, the Canadian government, differing sharply with FDA’s position on BPA brain toxicity, declared BPA a toxin, a first step in its efforts to restrict its use in baby bottles and formula

The Journal Sentinel quoted ACC spokeswoman Tiffany Harrington as confirming ACC’s involvement in drafting the agency’s position: "We are a stakeholder just like anyone else," Harrington said. "It's part of the process."

Earlier this month the Journal Sentinel disclosed that University of Michigan toxicologist Martin Philbert, Ph.D., chair of a key science advisory panel guiding the FDA’s continuing review of BPA’s potential health risks, failed to disclose to the agency a $5 million gift from Charles Gelman, the retired head of Gelman Sciences, a medical device manufacturing company which used BPA in its products, to the university Risk Science Center which Philbert directs.

The FDA has said it will review Philbert’s actions. But it has rebuffed calls by EWG and other groups to halt a meeting scheduled for Oct. 31 until a top-down investigation of this matter is concluded. At that meeting, Philbert is expected to make recommendations to the FDA Science Board on the safety of BPA in baby bottles, formula cans and other food packaging.

###

EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

Key Issues: