Bisphenol-A: The Role of the Citizen
International Bisphenol-A Policy
policies regarding BPA reflect the current national confusion around the
topic. Both the European Union and Japan allow for
the use of BPA. The recent BPA safety
assessments preformed by the European Food Safety’s Authority’s Scientific
Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Material in Contact
with Food and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science
and Technology agree with FDA’s current stance on the safety of BPA “at the
current exposure level.” In fact, after the European Food Safety
Authority’s recent reevaluation of BPA, it raised the Tolerable
Daily Intake (TDI) of BPA from .01milligrams/kg of bodyweight/day to
.05milligrams/kg of bodyweight/day “due to the substantial scientific evidence
on April 18, 2008, Canada
became the first nation to officially declare BPA toxic, and the country will
likely introduce a complete ban within a year on the use of BPA in the manufacture
of baby bottles. Canadian Health
Minister Tony Clement said his country will likely be the first to entirely ban
the import and production of baby bottles that contain BPA.
official are not privy to BPA studies that the United
States or Europe do not
have access to. So, to understand the
discrepancies between the nations’ BPA policies, one has to understand the
enormous complexity and the subsequent uncertainty involved around BPA research. BPA research has yet to provide a definite
conclusion without uncertainty that proves the safety or toxicity of
BPA at current exposure levels. Increasing this uncertainty further is Frederick vom Saal’s recent and somewhat controversial toxicological paradigm shift that casts considerable doubt on past research that
supports BPA. The different ways
in which nations choose to react to this uncertainty is the cause of these
radically different BPA policies.
Canada’s reaction to this
uncertainty is much more cautious. Canada chose to declare BPA toxic
until it is proven safe. Canadian Health Minister, Tony Clement
stated, “Although our science tells us that exposure levels to newborns and
infants are below the level that cause effects, we believe that the current
safety margin needs to be higher. We
have concluded that it is better to be safe than sorry.” However, U.S. policy allows for the use of
BPA until it is proven unsafe.
Canada’s recent decision has been heralded by U.S. citizens and citizen watchdog organizations
as one step closer towards the creation of
a similar ban in the U.S.
based on a similar reaction to the enormous uncertainty around BPA. Rick Smith, executive director of Canada’s Environmental Defense stated, "Canada's leadership on bisphenol A
is having a spinoff effect internationally.
It has now become clear that Canada's action is the beginning of
the end for this toxic chemical beyond our borders." In response to Canada’s
recent decision and the recent opinion of the U.S. National Toxicology Program
vom Saal stated, “The bottom line is there really is a convergence of opinion
that is occurring."