7/17/2009 8:00:00 AM - Dwayne Horner
Next to Global Warming, the greatest effort to scare Americans this past year has regarded Bisphenol A, a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic baby bottles and toys to make them stronger and longer-lasting.
It turns out, however, that after years of hand-wringing, biased media reports and witch hunts about BPA -- a new Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) report out of George Mason University (a non profit, non partisan group) has found that the risks were misleading and caused unnecessary public anxiety.
As the report noted, "A handful of scientists and environmental activist groups claim that bisphenol A is the biological equivalent of global warming, and its presence in plastic bottles and can linings is endangering “millions of babies.” Their message – and their accusation that the Food and Drug Administration has been swayed by industry-sponsored studies and has ignored vital scientific evidence – has led Congress to ask the agency to re-examine the safety of the chemical. A decision is expected by the end of the summer."
... Of course, if someone claims your product harms babies, they don't really need to prove it. The accusation is so incindiary that the mere suggestion could bankrupt most companies -- which, of course, is the point if you are trying to sell a "safer" plastic product. In short, it's a "scare racket".
National Journal’s Neil Munro recently detailed
how the BPA scare benefited one company -- the BornFree baby bottle company, and its CEO, Rob Vigdor:
Ron Vigdor, the founder and CEO of BornFree, sells trust. More precisely, he sells baby bottles for about $5.50 that are guaranteed to contain no bisphenol A, a chemical that is widely used in $1 baby bottles. An increasing number of young parents are worried about the toxicity of BPA in bottles made with an older plastic, so they're putting their trust in Vigdor's BPA-free bottles as fast as he can make them.
Vigdor began selling his bottles in Whole Foods grocery stores in 2006, and his production capacity has grown to 1 million a year. The established companies -- which sell about 60 million baby bottles annually -- are now marketing their own BPA-free bottles and cutting production of older models. Still, the demand for BornFree products is so high, Vigdor said, "the company has had to fly orders by FedEx next-day air" from its factory in Israel. He expects that a larger manufacturer will buy his firm at a premium someday. "Let the bidding begin," he said with a laugh.
… To boost press coverage, Vigdor hired Fenton Communications, which specializes in political advocacy and was already engaged with other anti-BPA outfits, such as the Environmental Working Group. Vigdor's market gets a boost every time the media publicize a report on BPA's possible hazards -- as happened last month when The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people with high levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have heart disease or diabetes.
Of course, leftist environmental groups like Environmental Working Group (EWG), Center for Health, the Tides Foundation, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), and others have been funding research to advance this agenda. Sadly, the phony science was aided by journalists and politicians, despite the fact that numerous independently funded studies have found BPA to be entirely safe.
The good news, though, is that apparently the STATS report is making a difference in how states react. The AP just reported
the other day that "California will not place Bisphenol A, a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic baby bottles and toys, on the state's list of chemicals that are believed to cause reproductive harm."