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Chemical Industry Reverses Its Position on Toxic Chemical BPA

After spending millions fighting BPA legislation, American Chemistry Council calls for ban on BPA in baby bottles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2011 
CONTACT: Shannon Coughlin, Breast Cancer Fund, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

On Friday the American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing the chemical industry, announced that it was petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, from baby bottles and sippy cups, marking a victory for breast cancer prevention advocates, parents and others concerned about the presence of this hormonally active chemical in food containers and packaging.

Last year the ACC effectively blocked introduction of a federal amendment that would have implemented an identical ban, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had planned to add to the Food Safety Modernization Act. The ACC has also vigorously and vocally opposed state efforts to regulate BPA in children's feeding products. The trade group's reversal on Friday speaks to the mounting power of consumers—and to the increasing body of scientific evidence—arguing that BPA has no place in food packaging.

The FDA has signaled its intent to approve the petition, a move that represents an evolution from the agency’s January 2010 announcement that while it had "some concern" about the chemical, it had no plans to take regulatory action.

"The tide has turned on BPA, and children's health is the clear winner," said Janet Nudelman, policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund. "It's great that the chemical industry wants to finally stop fighting the science and public opinion and join us in saying that BPA has no place in baby bottles and sippy cups. Now it's time for industry to go one step further and support legislative efforts to rid BPA from all food packaging."

BPA is a synthetic estrogen linked to breast cancer and other serious health problems that until recently was widely used to make polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, and is still used to make the epoxy-resin lining of food cans and baby-food jar lids. A September 2011 report by the Breast Cancer Fund documents the presence BPA in canned foods marketed to children. More than 200 scientific studies show that BPA exposure is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, infertility in men, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity. A March 2011 Breast Cancer Fund study showed that a primary route of exposure is through the leaching of BPA from food and beverage containers. Once in food, BPA moves quickly into the body. A recent study showed that BPA both encourages normal human breast cells to behave like cancer cells and makes the cells resistant to the effects of the breast-cancer treatment drug Tamoxifen.

Last week California became the eleventh state to restrict BPA in infant feeding products, and three countries have banned BPA from baby bottles. Also last week, French officials announced the government's support for a ban on BPA in all food packaging by 2014 and in containers marketed to children by 2013. In the marketplace, chemical manufacturer Sunoco announced in 2009 it would not sell BPA to companies intending to use it to make products for kids under 3. Still, some BPA-containing products may remain on store shelves—especially liquidation and dollar stores.

"A regulatory ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups is a good start, but it's not enough. Kids, pregnant women, all of us are still being exposed to BPA through canned foods," said Nudelman. "Now, Congress has to catch up by passing Rep. Markey’s bill that would ban BPA from all food and beverage containers and also require that BPA alternatives be tested for safety. We need federal action to ensure that everyone is protected."

To create momentum for change in the marketplace, the Breast Cancer Fund has launched the Cans Not Cancer campaign, which aims to convince canned food manufacturers to replace BPA in their cans with a safe alternative that's not linked to disease.

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer. www.breastcancerfund.org