Chemophobia Archives

Conning the can makers regarding bisphenol A

By Michael Fumento

A Washington Post A1 article, "Alternatives to BPA containers not easy for U.S. foodmakers to find," makes the case very nicely. The plastic hardening ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) in the epoxy lining of cans does a terrific job in preserving foods and it's clear that despite the scientifically groundless attacks on the chemical, routinely parroted by the media, there will be no easy or cheap replacements.

Consumers fought back against the saccharin scare.

Still, we are told, one must be found. The Post quotes a "source at a major U.S. food company who spoke on the condition of anonymity," saying: "It doesn't matter what FDA says. If consumers decide they don't want BPA, you don't want it to be in a can that consumers don't want to buy."

On its face, the argument is valid. In marketing, perception trumps reality. But is that the perception? I did a thorough Google search, asked other people who've written about BPA, asked industry representatives. There's no evidence of any scientific survey of people's attitudes towards BPA in products. Their opposition is simply assumed.

Is it a reasonable assumption? It has a basis in the incredible effort activists and the media have made to scare people. But scare campaigns don't always succeed. Polls show most Americans don't buy the global warming party line, with only 35% in an October Pew Research Center poll calling it "a serious threat." The massive CDC-media effort to terrify everybody into getting swine flu vaccines was a complete flop. Most of the vaccine is heading for a landfill.

Indeed, when the FDA threatened to yank saccharin because it was a rodent carcinogen, the public raised hue and cry and Congress blocked the ban.

Maybe before it spends many tens of millions of dollars trying to come up with replacement products for plastics containing BPA, industry should consider what is it the public really wants?

February 24, 2010 02:05 PM  ·  Permalink

Bisphenol baloney takes another hit

By Michael Fumento

In a provocatively entitled paper in the current issue of the prestigious journal Toxicological Sciences, Richard M. Sharpe asks "Is It Time to End Concerns over the Estrogenic Effects of Bisphenol A?"

In a word, "yes." Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an incredibly valuable chemical added to plastics like baby bottles to make them harder and stronger. It's been in use for many decades. And the greens want to get rid of it because they say it's dangerous.

Yet as I wrote recently in Investor's Business Daily,"Countries that have evaluated BPA in the last three years, as Trevor Butterworth of the STATS think tank has documented, include Norway, France, Germany (twice), Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Add to that a World Health Organization collaborative center. Each has found BPA safe."

(CEI's Angela Logomasini also recently wrote an excellent paper on BPA safety.)


The lynch mob is after BPA because it's a weak synthetic estrogen. These chemicals have been under fire since the publication of the 1996 book "Our Stolen Future," which one review aptly described as "an alarmist tract with a polemical style clearly crafted for its political, not scientific, impact." (With a foreword by Al Gore, no less.)

Never mind that over 150 plants produce chemicals that also mimic estrogen, many of them foods that contain so much that they're often recommended as natural hormone replacement therapy. The overall estrogenic effect of natural chemicals, according to Texas A&M University toxicologist Stephen Safe, is 40 million times that of the synthetics. Yes, it's just the environmentalist saw: "Man-made bad; natural good."

And so we keep throwing massive amounts of money to scientists to study it more and study it more and study it more.

Recently National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Director Linda Birnbaum announced $30 million in grants for two more years of BPA research, using money from the stimulus act, to "address many of the research gaps" regarding the chemical. Yet over 5,400 medical journal articles have already been published on BPA safety. How many gaps can that leave?

Sharpe comments on poorly done initial studies by an environmental aspect that I described, then writes:

Fundamental, repetitive work on bisphenol A has sucked in tens, probably hundreds, of millions of dollars from government bodies and industry which, at a time when research money is thin on the ground, looks increasingly like an investment with a nil return. All it has done is to show that there is a huge price to pay when initial studies are adhered to as being correct when the second phase of scientific peer review, namely, the inability of other laboratories to repeat the initial studies, says otherwise.

At some point it's time to say "Enough!" and we passed that point with BPA a long time ago.

February 15, 2010 05:17 PM  ·  Permalink

"Killer Cans And Toxic Baby Bottles," my piece in Investor's Business Daily

By Michael Fumento

Should we worry about a common chemical almost all of us carry in our bodies that activists claim causes a list of diseases longer than you'll find in a major medical center?

Having for decades labeled the plastic ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) safe, the Food and Drug Administration has just announced it's not so sure anymore.

Some U.S. jurisdictions have already restricted BPA use, and entire states like New York are considering bans.

Yet aside from Canada, which is banning BPA baby bottles, nobody else in the world seems worried. What's our problem?

Partly it reflects media adoration for a single homegrown scientist. And strangely enough, it's also a consequence of President Obama's economic stimulus package.

Read the rest here!

And for an excellent longer treatment, my colleague Angela Logomasini has just completed an excellent report on "The Nanny State Attack on BPA: Oregon and Beyond.

February 6, 2010 12:29 PM  ·  Permalink

Why does everybody think BPA is safe but us?

By Michael Fumento

Regarding the ubiquitous plastic ingredient bisphenol A (BPA), my colleague Angela Logomasini blogged that "The greens are rejoicing today because the Food and Drug Administration has softened its stance on the safety of" the chemical and gave some reasons why it's folly. But here's what I find striking.

In 2006 the European Union's Food Safety Authority conducted a risk assessment focusing on the threat to infants. It ultimately raised the Tolerable Daily Intake by a factor of five, which is to say it found BPA much safer than was first believed. Mind you, this is the same EU that has placed advisory warnings on cell phones and whose residents run in terror at the sight of a grain of genetically modified corn.

Two years later the EU conducted an update and as Trevor Butterworth of STATS has documented, since then there's been:

- A review by Japans National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (2007)
- An examination of claims of neurotoxicity by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (2008)
- An evaluation by the French Food Safety Agency (2008)
- A risk assessment by NSF International, a World Health Organization collaborative center (2008)
- A review of new data by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (2008)
- A survey of canned drink products by Health Canada (2009)
- A risk assessment by Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (2009)
- A modeling study of BPA in humans by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (2009).

None of these prompted any warnings or restrictions on BPA use.

There's only one conclusion to draw from all this folks. Apparently Americans are uniquely vulnerable to the horrors of BPA. But (pssst . . . ) don't try telling that to a geneticist.

January 20, 2010 11:05 AM  ·  Permalink

Senseless scent hate mail

By Michael Fumento

Subject: Where's your scientific backup?

Wendy Webb wrote:

Dear Michael,

How about drinking your bottle of cologne and letting me know how that goes for you? Put your opinion where your mouth is (instead of its current southerly location) and show us all how harmless cologne is and that our fears are baseless. Harvard will be particularly interested in your discovery that perfume holds no danger. They can then remove the statement "Just two ounces of perfume can cause severe poisoning in a young child." from their website. If a couple ounces of your favorite smelly fluid can kill a human - then please explain how it is unbelievable that it can make other humans sick from exposure. Are you just a bit slow or are your articles funded by those who profit from your lies?

In all truth - I wish you were correct and that perfumes/fragrances were safe for all to use and be exposed to. Start talking to people you know and believe in Michael . . . I bet you'll find a few who have had reactions or know someone who does. Know anyone that works in a hospital? Talk to them, they may have some information for you too. And be careful about the karma you invite . . . the universe has a wicked sense (or scents) of humor and you may one day find yourself the sickened victim of a perfume bomb.

Say hello to Karma! (Actually my wife.)

Good luck with that!


Dear Wendy:

Can you not distinguish between modes of exposure, namely drinking versus smelling. Personally, I don't like the smell of feces but I'd certainly rather smell it than consume it. Or to put it into toxicological form, I wouldn't mind dabbing a little cyanide behind my ears and on my wrist - though I dare say it would do nothing to attract the fair sex. But I wouldn't drink cyanide. Likewise you could hold plutonium in your hand and it would be harmless. You could eat it and it would be harmless. But inhale it and you're asking for lung cancer. It speaks not well of you that you don't understand this.

As for inviting Karma, I already have. She's coming for dinner tonight and I really don't care what you have to say about that either.

November 20, 2009 02:45 PM  ·  Permalink