The BPA Debate: Are Lobbyists Trying To Deceive Us?

by heather

canned-foodIf you’ve been keeping up with the news, then you’ve probably already heard that BPA (bisphenol-A, a chemical used in plastics and food can linings) might be dangerous for our health.

The evidence that BPA is indeed dangerous keeps mounting. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Japan banned the chemical in their food can linings in back in 1998 because students and young adults were turning up with alarming amounts of the substance in their blood.

Not. Good.

But here in the States, BPA is big business. Chemical companies make around $6 billion per year selling BPA to companies across the spectrum. It’s used in baby bottles, canned foods, water bottles, and beverage bottles, among other things.

The dangers of BPA isn’t the point of this article. If you’ d like to learn more on the dangers of BPA, you can check out my article, “The Dangers of BPA“, published here at The Greenest Dollar.

This in-depth report from Time Magazine, “Reassessing The Dangers of BPA In Plastics” is also an excellent resource.

So, what IS the point of this article, you ask?

The point is that the food executives and the lobbyists who work for the chemical companies who make BPA are trying to launch a new PR campaign to put BPA in a better light. No matter what the consequences are.

The Leaked PR Planning Session Notes

According to a story published on NPR (June 2, The Environment Report), the lobbyists and food executives met last week in Washington to devise a new strategy to keep BPA in business.

The short stick is that someone took notes at this meeting. And after it was over, they leaked these meeting notes to the Washington Post, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the EWG.

What was said at that planning session?

Well, if those notes are honest, they reveal a horrifying inside look at just how far these people are willing to go to keep BPA in business.

Here are some quotes, from the meeting notes, taken from the EWG site:

Attendees believe a balance of legislative and grassroots outreach (to young mothers ages 21-35 and students) is imperative to the stability of their industry.

Their ‘holy grail’ spokesperson would be a “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.”

Attendees suggested using fear tactics (e.g. “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?”) as well as giving control back to consumers (e.g. you have a choice between the more expensive product that is frozen or fresh or foods packaged in cans) as ways to dissuade people from choosing BPA-free packaging.

NPR Confirms…

NPR interviewed the writer, Lyndsey Layton, who wrote the initial article at the Washington Post (you can hear the original story here).

She says that although the Executive Director of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance is now claiming that the notes are false, when she first called to confirm the accuracy of the notes, they confirmed that they were correct.

And Where Do We Go From Here?

Well for me, this new development sounds eerily familiar to the Tobacco scandal of the ’60s. You know, when the big execs claimed that tobacco was perfectly safe and non-addictive?

Yeah…

It just keeps going back to what I started suspecting months ago (and what people who are far wiser than me have known for years): plastic probably isn’t good for us. Especially the forms of plastic that contain BPA.

I’ve already eliminated almost all the plastic out of my kitchen, which I feel really good about.

What’s harder to manage is the fact that BPA is in almost every single canned food.

While doing research, I found this amazing list of BPA-free companies over at OrganicGrace.com.

Organic Grace called and researched which companies have BPA in their canned food, and which companies don’t.  You can see the full list here.  It’s definitely worth a look!

I also found this illuminating graphic at the EWG.  It shows the levels of unsafe BPA that different canned foods have.

All research was done by the Environmental  Working Group (EWG):

2008-04-17_110055-treehugger-bpa-chart

As you can tell, eliminating BPA-lined canned foods from our diet should really, really be a high priority.

Treehugger.com has a great article (here) on how to cut down or eliminate BPA exposure from your diet.

Last Word…

I just wanted to pass on this information in case you’d missed the story in the news and on NPR.

What do you think about this? I know I was floored when I heard the story on NPR. I’d love to get your reactions on all this! And if you’re already not buying canned foods (or very few) I’d love to hear any tips you have. I’m still struggling on this part, and I’m sure many other readers are as well.

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Jennifer June 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

Great article! Disturbing…but I guess if you are cynical enough, not all that surprising. I appreciate the link to the list of companies that don’t have BPA in their canned food. BPA really is pretty much everywhere, which makes grocery shopping on a budget even more difficult.

heather June 9, 2009 at 9:09 am

Jennifer,

I agree…definitely disturbing.

I’ve been struggling with the canned food thing since I researched this article. I was at the grocery store yesterday, and it was difficult to avoid buying cans.

But, I guess it all comes down to convenience. We’re vegetarians, and eat a lot of beans. So, I need to just start buying dried beans and planning my meals better.

Karen June 19, 2009 at 8:16 am

I also posted about BPA and the Endocrine Society’s report this week. I also have a link on the post where you can send a message to congress and voice your opinion to urge FDA to ban BPA.

http://ecogeneration.blogspot.com/2009/06/endocrine-societys-report-on-bpa.html

ralph searl May 5, 2010 at 2:47 am

as a director of a cooler bottle company here in the UK i am so concerned regarding BPA that i have cancelled all our european policarbonate for 2010 and ordered from Eastmans who are a USA company this will allow us to make the cooler bottle in BPA free material,
i feel i am swimming upstream and cannot believe the flak i am getting from the industry, but i will not waiver,
Ralph Searl

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