EcoMeme: “Oh, THAT BPA?”

baby bottles

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reversed its position on the safety of a chemical used especially in canned food and drink packaging, plastic and baby bottles – Bisphenol A.

Sounds like a jazz cover of a Radiohead album? It’s so much worse, if that’s possible.

Bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA, is harmful to human health, the FDA finally admitted if not wholeheartedly. With human adults, exposure to BPA has been associated with everything from erectile dysfunction to miscarriages. In animals, it has caused breast cancer and development problems.

While the Bush administration all but ignored previous studies, at least the FDA is beginning to change its course. Sadly, both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are delaying an all out ban on this questionable-at-best chemical.

The feds have rallied on behalf of industry, though, promising to help manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups find BPA-free materials they can use, and to find new ways to line infant formula cans with research and dollars.

Our green blogosphere has been fiercely a-tweet and a-post about this toxic mixture of plastics and food, politics and science. Study up with the links below, and take action if inspired.

We think a BPA ban might remain a hot, green topic online for a while. Especially since health is priced at a premium here in the U.S. – and hopes for an affordable public option are likely dashed by the election of Republican Scott Brown, now Massachusetts senator-elect.


“Recent research has linked BPA to disruptions in the endocrine system, an issue that can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems, causing a growing number of consumer and health advocates to push for greater regulation of the chemical’s use in food containers. In 2008, near the end of the Bush Administration, the FDA conducted a toxicology review of the chemical and maintained that foods containing low levels of the chemical were safe. New research and increased public concern has caused HHS and the FDA to reevaluate the safety of the chemical.” – From a news feature for FoodSafetyNews by Helena Bottemiller

“The FDA is going to punt, and spend $30 million on research over the next two years, while the industry scrambles to find some kind of affordable and effective substitute for BPA in cans. And they better find one, because I suspect that the studies will prove that feeding birth control pill hormones to babies has never been a particularly good idea.” – A Treehugger post by Lloyd Alter parsing the FDA’s press release, and its BPA “concerns.”

“While this announcement is an improvement from their previous conclusion that [BPA] was safe in our food supply – it is too little, too late”¦ The FDA [has] not acknowledged the impacts of BPA on adults. Biomonitoring data shows that babies are being born with BPA already in their blood, which means that they are being exposed through their mothers before they are born. Furthermore, BPA exposure in adults has been associated with miscarriage, erectile dysfunction, heart disease and diabetes.” – An article by scientist and writer Sarah Janssen for


A blog feature by S.L. Baker for recounting various studies that link BPAs to heart disease, and other health problems

A blog post by Dr. Ari Brown that guides parents to products for babies that are free of or very low in BPAs, and discusses the harmful effects of BPAs on child development via WebMD, a blog focused on “open government” looks into the regulatory issues surrounding the BPA controversy of Jan. 2010

An activist, Mary Olivella, writes for HuffingtonPost and calls for the immediate, all-out ban of BPAs in food and beverage containers

This is the latest installment of EcoMeme, a column featuring eco news, tech and business highlights by columnist Lora Kolodny.

Image: Timlewisnm