Such is the case with Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. Like “climate change,” BPA is blamed for myriad health woes, none of which have ever been proved, and we only hear about the evidence that confirms a particular and negative view. For awhile now I’ve followed the reporting on BPA because it’s illustrative of the emergence of reporters picking and choosing scientific studies to further a political agenda. The anti-BPA agenda seeks bans or further regulating of BPA, which can be found in water bottles, food can liners (it prevents botulism and spoilage), thermal register tape and many other products, in order to have their foot on the neck of every business that produces BPA and every business that makes a product that contains BPA.
There have been numerous studies by the FDA, CDC, World Health Organization, and European Food Safety Authority that have found that BPA is easily and quickly metabolized and does no discernible harm to humans of any age. However, the agenda-driven media hypes any study claiming negative effects from BPA. In their latest attempt, activists and the hysterical media jumped on a study by the University of California’s Michael Baker. The Baker study used a computer model to show the effects of metabolized BPA. The media jumped on the study with hysterical headlines like “BPA is Bad to the Bone, Now We Know Why,” and “New studies add fuel to concerns over BPA.” But in an odd twist, the researcher who approved the hyped-up news release now says “neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful.”
In a lengthy think piece on Forbes.com, science writer Jon Entine wrote, “The news reports shared a common theme—asserting or at least suggesting that the Baker study was a smoking gun and perhaps the final scientific word that activists have been awaiting to confirm their long-held belief that BPA is harmful and should be banned or sharply restricted. The irony is that the Baker study, when analyzed, does not support that view. Rather, it provides additional confirmation of the unlikelihood that BPA or many other so-called ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals pose serious health threats.”
Entine called Baker for additional background. He found out that Baker had no prior experience researching BPA. Additionally, Baker confirmed that he and those promoting the study to the press “were aware of the slew of popular and research reports damning BPA as dangerous, which shaped the tone and wording of the release.” Baker also admitted that he approved the release.
Baker also said to Entine, “I’m not an expert on BPA, by any means. It’s possible, that the metabolite that I studied would not have any effect on humans and I have no evidence, none at all, that BPA causes any problems in humans. This was a theoretical exercise, and it would be trumped by what actually happens in the real world. Based on what I know now, neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful. I am upset that my structural study is misused by some.”
Entine also contacted California Watch, an environmental group that targets BPA producers. They admitted that the Baker study offered no new information to suggest that BPA was dangerous. Yet they reported on the study in near-hysterical terms.
It’s now common knowledge that the profession of journalism has morphed into political activism. We have outfits like Politico, MSNBC, ABC and CBS on the left and Fox News, Breitbart.com and Daily Caller on the right. A media segmented by ideology is easier to embrace when the general public has enough knowledge to make an informed decision on what media to consume. Unfortunately, in the field of science reporting we’re starting to see the same segmentation by ideology, but the public isn’t as informed as they should be.
Activists on the Left and their cohorts in the media want to pin the world’s diseases and disasters on one enemy: humans.
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