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Calif. Lawmakers Fail to Ban Toxic Chemical in Children's Food Products

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:September 2, 2008
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246 cell, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

SACRAMENTO–California State legislators failed to pass SB 1713, the Toxin Free Toddlers and Babies Act, which would have banned the toxic chemical from baby bottles and sippy cups. In a vote on Friday, the measure was defeated 36-31. It needed 41 votes to pass.

“The legislature’s refusal to acknowledge BPA’s threat to children’s health and safety is deeply disappointing,” said Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund. “More than 130 scientific studies show that BPA exposure—even at very low doses—is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including breast cancer, brain damage, obesity, an altered immune system and early-onset puberty,”

The vote took place just a week after the Food and Drug Administration released a controversial draft assessment of BPA that declared it safe. “The FDA’s draft assessment relies on just two studies which were funded by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Dow Chemical, Bayer and other plastics manufacturers. Not only does this assessment ignore the dozens of other studies done by independent scientists which have found evidence of health consequences, but FDA’s conclusions are in direct conflict with two National Institutes of Health reviews and the actions of its counterpart in Canada,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a physician and scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Parents, scientists and environmental health advocates expressed deep disappointment with lawmakers, who were subjected to an extensive advertising and lobbying campaign against the bill by the chemical industry. Advocates noted that the chemical industry used the classic tobacco industry tactic of denying health threats despite scientific evidence—an assertion that gained validation when Congress recently began investigating communications between the American Chemistry Council and the Weinberg Group, a PR firm whose clients have included the alcohol and tobacco industries.

“It’s unfortunate that the chemical industry resorted to scare tactics and lies to oppose the bill. It’s even more unfortunate that some of our elected officials seem to have believed them,” Salter said.

“BPA was originally used as a synthetic hormone replacement therapy. What are we doing putting artificial hormones in baby bottles?” Salter said. “There are safe alternatives to this chemical that are already in use. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have responded to scientists’ and parents’ concerns and agreed to stop selling certain products made with BPA. It’s a sad day when corporations respond to citizens’ demands more quickly than the legislators we’ve elected.”

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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.