The Washington Post has an article today that illustrates the fallacy in the current trend of the Bush administration and the U.S. Supreme Court to push the doctrine of “preemption.” This is the legal theory that basically states if a federal agency approves a product, then consumers are forbidden to file any claims for damages caused by that product. The argument against premption is that the government is starving the federal agencies by reducing their budgets, thereby reducing their abilities to adequately test products. The story is about safety concerns with the chemical compound bisphenol A (BPA). Here are excerpts.
Despite more than 100 published studies by government scientists and university laboratories that have raised health concerns about a chemical compound that is central to the multibillion-dollar plastics industry, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe largely because of two studies, both funded by an industry trade group.
The agency says it has relied on research backed by the American Plastics Council because it had input on its design, monitored its progress and reviewed the raw data.
The compound, bisphenol A (BPA), has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, behavioral disorders and reproductive health problems in laboratory animals.
As evidence mounts about the risks of using BPA in baby bottles and other products, some experts and industry critics contend that chemical manufacturers have exerted influence over federal regulators to keep a possibly unsafe product on the market.
Congressional Democrats have begun investigating any industry influence in regulating BPA.
“Tobacco figured this out, and essentially it’s the same model,” said David Michaels, who was a federal regulator in the Clinton administration. “If you fight the science, you’re able to postpone regulation and victim compensation, as well. As in this case, eventually the science becomes overwhelming. But if you can get five or 10 years of avoiding pollution control or production of chemicals, you’ve greatly increased your product.
Scientists first flagged possible health risks of BPA more than a decade ago. From 1997 to 2005, 116 studies of the compound were published, many of them focused on its effects in low doses. Of those funded by government, 90 percent showed a health effect linked to BPA. None of the industry-funded studies found an effect; all of them said BPA is safe.