No More Baby BPA in Maryland: 46 to 0

February 25th, 2010

Talk about a rout! The BPA vote sailed through the Maryland Senate this morning, on a vote of 46 to 0. Wow.

You can read more about it in this piece from the Baltimore Sun.

Congrats to everyone who has worked so hard to get this legislation passed!

— Lynn

The BPA Battle Heats Up: The Endocrine Society Takes a Stand

June 15th, 2009

The other week I noticed that a somewhat-obscure scientific organization, The Endocrine Society, was meeting in Washington, DC. For a moment, I stopped and wondered if they too might weigh in on the bisphenol A (BPA) debate now raging in DC.

“Nah,” I thought. “They’re non-political. I’ve never heard about them. They’ll just report on research, but they won’t actually make a  statement or engage in the debate.”

Wow. Was I wrong.

As I learned from – once again – the Environmental Working Group – The Endocrine Society actually issued its first ever scientific statement on BPA – the first in its 93-year-history.  The Society warned that BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) “ have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology.”

The Society also warned that “The Precautionary Principle is key to enhancing endocrine and reproductive health, and should be used to inform decisions about exposure to, and risk from, potential endocrine disruptors.”

[For more on the Precautionary Principle, see this OrganicMania interview with Diane MacEachern, author of The Big Green Purse and a Founding Member of The Green Moms Carnival].

You can access the entire Scientific Statement here. It’s dense reading, and I confess I haven’t made it all the way through as yet – but what I have read is troubling. The report documents possible links between  endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA and a host of serious health issues such as cancer, ADHD, autism, and low sperm count.

In a separate action, EWG President Ken Cook sent a letter to Coca Cola’s CEO in which he noted “More than a decade ago, because of concerns about high levels of BPA in bioassays of teenagers and young adults, most Japanese food processing removed or dramatically reduced the use of BPA in can linings, switching to safer, less expensive PET(polyrthylene terephthalate) film lamination. As a result, a 2002 study found that BPA levels among Japanese students dropped by fully 50 percent between 1992 and 1999.”

Can you believe it? Those numbers are stunning.

When I started OrganicMania, I thought the main health issue we Moms faced was the food we put in our bodies. Little did I know it was just the tip of the iceberg. Plastic bottles, cans, household cleaners, make-up, baby shampoos, lotions and potions –   I’ve learned that substances like these contain minute amounts of carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other chemicals. Scientists and regulators are still sorting out the cumulative effects of all these exposures.  As for me, there’s enough evidence there to follow the Precautionary Principle. That means sticking to simple, basic foods, make-up and personal care products, buying organic and natural whenever possible, and avoiding synthetic compounds.

I’ll be blogging a lot more about these issues in the future. I feel like the scales have fallen off my eyes. It’s not just about the food. It’s about so much more than that.  What do you think? Leave a comment and share.


Copyright OrganicMania 2009

BPA Scandal: Now What? Here’s What.

June 4th, 2009

In my last post, I thanked the anonymous leaker who let us into the behind the scenes machinations at the Cosmos Club meeting of the BPA lobby.

Then I asked – Now What?

Well, Here’s What:

–    Congress is not amused. Check out this link to a letter from Congressman  Henry Waxman, demanding that NAMPA supply to Congress a complete list of background materials pertaining to the meetings held by the BPA Joint Trade Association in April and May, as well as a list of attendees at the meetings and the names of the members of the BPA Joint Trade Association;

– The FDA announced it will be conducting a full review of BPA’s safety, and will have its results “within weeks, not months” (as is typical);

–    Surprise, surprise, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NAMPA has hired a crisis communications specialist. Let’s hope this “specialist” doesn’t leave annoying comments on green blogs, like the crisis people hired by the formaldehyde lobby when we blogged about toxins in baby products; and

– NAMPA announced on its home page and in a press statement that   ” a blatantly inaccurate and fabricated memo purportedly reporting on the discussion in that meeting is now being waved as evidence that the industry is colluding to cover up the facts. The Journal’s attempt to pass off this illegitimate
memo from an unidentified source as proof that industry is trying to manipulate the process is
shoddy journalism at best and a breach of journalistic ethics at worst. The fact is, despite the best efforts of the Journal to portray the meeting as something sinister, it was nothing more than an effort by industry to
find a way to portray correctly the science about BPA that has been repeatedly ignored by the media.”

(Note:  The Washington Post reported that a NAMPA lobbyist confirmed the accuracy of the memo, although she did point out that it was a “brainstorming session.”)

Check out these great posts for more info:
–    Enviroblog has a  terrific  round-up of all the news here at “The Week from Hell for BPA;”
–    The Smart Mama has her usual great take on the issue here with her post “Fall-out from Industry Memo Seeking Pregnant Women to Promote Bisphenol A.” Jennifer Taggert, aka The Smart Mama, has been covering this issue – along with a host of other environmental toxin issues for years –  and she’s got great insights into what’s going on;
–    Clementine W takes a practical stance with 10 Ways to Avoid BPA;  and

– The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this “Chemical Fallout” breaking news feed you can subscribe to for breaking news on this issue as it unfolds.

Just hours ago, the Environmental Working Group released this link as part of an action alert asking  people to call Coke and Del Monte, two of the companies present at the infamous BPA meeting, to tell them to stop using BPA.

I can’t/won’t keep up with this issue on a near-daily basis – just wanted to pass along the news about how speedily things are being addressed, and direct you to The Smart Mama, Enviroblog, and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for breaking news updates.

Progress!  What a nice change from how things have been handled in the past!


Copyright OrganicMania 2009


Thank You, Anonymous Leaker. Now What?

June 2nd, 2009

Thank you to whomever had the gumption to send the now infamous Bisphenol A (BPA)  meeting notes over to The Washington Post.  Notes that exposed discussion about  developing  a  PR plan to restore BPA’s luster and to block  proposed bans on the controversial chemical.  BPA is used in the linings of canned foods and beverages in the US, yet has been linked in numerous independent studies to  myriad health concerns such as endocrine disruption, cancer, diabetes and heart disease (as I’ve previously blogged  here.)  (You can read the meeting  notes from the Cosmos Club discussions with  Coca-Cola, Alcoa, Del Monte, Crown, the American Chemistry Council, the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations here at the Environmental Working Group’s website.)

There’s nothing unusual about industry insiders sitting down to craft an image campaign to bolster a failing product’s allure.  These steps outlined in the memo are standard marketing tactics:   Fund a consumer perception study. Craft some new messages. Find a marketable spokesperson (in this case a pregnant woman).

But was is unusual is this: for a chemical that is supposed to be so safe,  why do the notes show no discussion about the overlooked benefits of BPA? If the problem truly is “perception,” why didn’t the participants spend their time talking about the key points supporting their position that BPA is safe? And why did someone feel compelled to leak the notes if everything truly was on the up-and-up?

According to the notes, the accuracy of which were verifed by a NAMPA spokesperson in The Post article, the attendees spent their time discussing budget ($500,000 for the campaign) and tactics. Funny thing is, they’ve already had a big PR firm, Stanton Communications, representing them. According to O’Dwyers, Stanton also represents The Formaledehyde Council, coincidentally the same group that left snarky comments on  Mom blogs after we blogged about the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’  Toxic Tub report.

Now, in this recession, in this town, $500,000 is a lot of money for PR work.  NAMPA and its allies can secure the finest communications council  DC has to offer for that princely sum.  But according NAMPA’s  website,  Stanton already reported  in February that “In just the first four weeks of 2009, more than 150 articles have been published in various trade, environmental, health, and consumer media. While the specific content of the articles has varied, the underlying message is the same — BPA found in plastic products and metal cans is harmful to people and should be avoided or eliminated. .. . This underscores the need for swift and consistent response to articles as they appear, to set the record straight on BPA, specifically in relation to its critical usage in metal packaged food and beverage products.”

In NAMPA’s response to The Post story, also posted on their website, they state,  ”The use of BPA-based epoxy liners in metal food and beverage cans serves a critical function by preventing a myriad of contaminants from penetrating into the food, affording longer shelf life and significant nutrition, convenience, and economy. Unfortunately, the one-sided reporting so commonplace in the media has left consumers to conclude that rather than preventing health impacts, the epoxy liner itself causes problems because it contains infinitesimal amounts of BPA.”

So is this their entire defense?   BPA prevents contamination from penetrating into food and it’s approved by the FDA. NAMPA appears to imply that we should ignore advice such as this one issued on May 21st from  Harvard’s School of Public HealthWith increasing evidence of the potential harmful effects of BPA in humans, the authors believe further research is needed on the effect of BPA on infants and on reproductive disorders and on breast cancer in adults.”

Hmmm…how do they sell Coke in Japan? The Japanese, who banned BPA, must have found a suitable alternative that does not contaminate the food supply. And while it’s true that BPA is not banned in Europe, it’s also true that countries around the world are reviewing their laws. From NAMPA’s own May e-newsletter I read “NAMPA has learned that the Danish Parliament has proposed a law to ban BPA in baby bottles and other consumer products.  The proposal acknowledges the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) approval of the use of BPA in 2008, but dismisses this finding and indicates its
unsuccessful efforts to have EFSA apply more severe rules governing BPA.”

Here’s an offer. When NAMPA gets its act together, I’d love to talk to their new high-priced  PR firm to get answers to my questions. I’m sure I could get some other Mom bloggers to join me, those who’ve just posted their own reactions to the specter of a pregnant woman hawking BPA products:   The Smart Mama,    Green and Clean Mom, Nature Moms,     Safe MamaNon Toxic Kids, The Soft Landing, Jenn Savedge of Mother Nature Network and The Green Parent,   Retro Housewife Goes Green , and Leslie aka La Mama Naturale over at Eco Childs Play.  How about a blogger conference call?

To round it out, let’s invite Consumer Reports too – as their blog says, “We have repeatedly called for BPA to be banned from food and beverage containers, and for the government to take immediate action to protect infants and children from BPA exposure. Some manufacturers and retailers have already begun removing BPA from their products. We hope that more will follow that example rather than relying on cynical public relations gimmicks.”

What do you think? Leave a comment and share.


Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Thanks to the Early BPA Pioneers

April 15th, 2008

This afternoon, the US National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, released a draft report indicating that low dose exposure to BPA in plastics may be linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty in girls and behavioral changes such as hyperactivity. And it’s rumored that the Canadian government will take an even stronger step on Wednesday, naming BPA a “dangerous substance.”

Many feel that this report is long overdue. The fact is, for years now, early pioneers such as the Environmental Working Group and savvy media outlets like The Wall Street Journal have been warning of the potential risks of BPA. Just last August, a group of 38 medical researchers warned again of the potential risks.

Their cry was taken up by prominent bloggers like Z Recommends, Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune, and Denise and Alan Fields of Baby Bargains.

Moms have been anxiously trading stories about which bottles and sippy cups were BPA-free on blogs and parenting listservs like DCUM.

It’s just the latest example of the Precautionary Principle which Diane MacEachern explained here.

When it comes to health and environmental issues, particularly when our children are involved, you can never play it too safe.

What can you do? Go more natural. Think glass bottles and cups, find wooden toys, and get better acquainted with safer plastics, if you feel you must use plastic.

Here are some links that may be helpful to you:

Washington Post and Wall Street Journal articles

Environmental Working Group Guide to Safe Bottles and Formula

Environmental Working Group Guide to Infant Formula

Z Recommends Report on BPA (Third Edition)

Safe Mama

Non Toxic Tots

Want to say “thank you” to the Environmental Working Group for these helpful guides on how to avoid BPA? Go here to have Stonyfield Farms donate $1 to the EWG when you click and fill in your email address.

“Non-Toxic Tots”

March 1st, 2008

Thought you might be interested in this Washington Post article about how parents are shelling out big bucks for natural and organic baby products in an attempt to buy peace of mind given the safety concerns surrounding so many baby products. The article includes lots of interesting research and a quote from yours truly!

— Lynn