FDA Changes Position on BPA

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As a member of Better Health Network of medical bloggers, I had an opportunity to participate in a briefing on bisphenol A (BPA) in December. You can listen to the briefing read up about issues surrounding BPA here. This is an important story which will probably receive more attention as we learn more about the safety of BPA.

On Friday, the FDA changed its position regarding BPA over concerns about the chemical which is used in a wide range of consumer products from water bottles to baby bottles. The FDA is now expressing its intent to seek and fund more studies on the public health safety of BPA.

The BPA story has been a long-running controversy and provides us with a good view of the intersection of public health, scientific rigor, commercial enterprise, government regulation, the spread of memes via social media and the economic consequences of public policy.

If it turned out, on solid scientific grounds, that BPA does indeed pose a threat what would be the economic consequences of revocation and remediation? This isn’t to equate money with life or health – but it is a point about the important role that scientific rigor has in how we produce goods.

In an age of instantaneous propagation of information (either good or bad), how do we filter out the right data from the wrong? Additionally, given that public debates are necessarily human in nature (that is to say, emotional), how do we ensure that reasoning minds appropriately congregate so we achieve the clearest results?

What do you think of the FDA’s change in stance with respect to BPA? Do you think public debates on matters like BPA safety are healthy?

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  1. I’d have to agree. And as the Web expands in its use and everybody becomes a content producer, it will become increasingly challenging for reliable voices to be heard.

  2. The scientific argument is unfortunately becoming irrelevant as the market responds. Perception trumps reality. 2-3 years ago infant bottle manufacturers were effectively forced to initiate the process of phasing out BPA in their products.

  3. Hi Nat,

    I remember that time as well here in the States. Matters like these are especially anxiety-provoking, especially for parents.

  4. Hi Phil,

    Whether it was a political or a rational decision based on science, Health Canada banned the sale of BPA-containing baby bottles in October 2008. I remember the peak of the controversy very well because it all happened when my son was just a bit over 1 year old and had just recently transitioned to cow’s milk, and I was unknowingly using BPA-containing bottles for him. I threw those out real quick and replaced them with BPA-free bottles immediately. Why take a chance. Baby boy #2 is scheduled to arrive in a couple of months, and it is reassuring to know that he will not be exposed to BPA, well at least not in his baby bottles.



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