European Union Scientists Say Bisphenol A is Safe; Criticizes U.S. and Canada for Promoting Bad Science

The European Union’s Food Safety Authority reaffirmed the findings of its 2006 risk assessment on Bisphenol A (BPA) last week. As with the 2006 risk assessment, the focus was on the risk to children:

The AFC Panel, in its final session, took into account both the previous and the most recent information and data available on the way that BPA and related substances are handled in the human body. The Panel concluded that the exposure of the human foetus to BPA would be negligible because the mother rapidly metabolises and eliminates BPA from her body. The scientists also concluded that newborns are similarly able to metabolise and eliminate BPA at doses below 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day. This implies that newborns could effectively clear BPA at levels far in excess of the TDI of 0.05 mg/kg bw set by the Panel and therefore its 2006 risk assessment remains valid.”

Despite hundreds of news reports on the alleged risks of BPA in the United States and Canada,  few media outlets reported this latest research and comment by the European Union, even though its scientists dismissed concerns in the U.S. and Canada over the safety of the chemical as being based on poor science:

“EFSA took note of the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s draft brief on BPA and of the Canadian government’s recent Draft Screening Assessment on BPA, which took into account findings from the low-dose studies, notably with respect to neurodevelopmental toxicity, though both pointed out that these studies were limited in rigour, consistency and biological plausibility.

EFSA also took into account the recent report published by one of the institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre [2] which concluded that due to the low confidence in the reliability of the developmental neurotoxicity studies and the lack of consistency in the results of behavioural testing, no conclusions can be drawn from these studies. This opinion is very similar to that of EFSA in 2006.”

The U.S. and Canadian media also largely ignored the 2006 risk assessment when reporting on the risks of BPA, even though the report explained in detail the scientific reasons for rejecting the studies that claimed there was a risk.

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6 Responses to European Union Scientists Say Bisphenol A is Safe; Criticizes U.S. and Canada for Promoting Bad Science

  1. Luk Arbuckle says:

    Apparently it’s not just the media that have missed this, but epidemiologists as well. Dr. David Michaels, at the George Washington University School of Public Health, has an article in the Washington Post in which he says:

    “More than 90 percent of the 100-plus government-funded studies performed by independent scientists found health effects from low doses of BPA, while none of the fewer than two dozen chemical-industry-funded studies did.

    Aare these studies using samples in petri dishes? He doesn’t say, but the conclusions by EFSA have me questioning his numbers.

    The article in question is “It’s Not the Answers That Are Biased, It’s the Questions”.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/14/AR2008071402145.html

  2. I read that article, and I sent a letter to the Washington Post pointing out what was wrong with Michael’s comments: first,, there are many hundreds of studies, possibly over a thousand on BPA. The ones he claims are independent were rejected not just by Europe, but by risk assessments conducted by the Japanese government, NSF International, a non-profit independent consumer affairs organization, and the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction here in the U.S. The primary reason is that these studies injected BPA into rats, which creates toxic effects that are not comparable to ingesting BPA orally. To put it simply, BPA loses any estrogenic capacity if you ingest it orally, due to the way it is metabolized. As this is the only way we are exposed to BPA, other routes of exposure are not considered relevant. Poor sample size, insufficient low dose endpoints, lack of multigenerational studies, and other problems were also cited by these risk assessments. These reports explain in detail why specific studies were rejected. One can only assume Michaels didn’t read the risk assessments before launching into an assault on industry-sponsored research.

  3. Luk Arbuckle says:

    Thanks for following up, Trevor, with more information about the studies. I was tempted to send your blog post to the Washington Post, but I didn’t know the details about the studies the author was referencing. Again, thanks for shedding light on the issue.

  4. I am constantly amazed and dismayed by the American consumer’s unquestioning acceptance of negative headlines concerning plastics. The reliabiltiy of the information or the source is never questioned and the mis-information abounds.

    • Hmm says:

      I am constantly amazed and dismayed by those with a vested interest in promoting chemicals.

      Profit over health is their focus. They’re quick to defend their products especially after a few biased studies are published and accepted. This is no different than what the tobacco industry did in terms of the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes was put into question. Eventually, say, in 50 years, there will be studies that will be irrefutable against BPA. They will show that even small amounts of this poison, BPA is harmful to one’s health. Again, this will all happen in due course.

      • Your comment doesn’t make any sense. Bisphenol a is used in can linings to prevent food spoilage; in plastic, to prevent shattering. It has been tested and retested. There are over 4,000 studies on it and its effects. The most rigorous tests – which is to say, those that follow international guidelines on how to test chemicals for danger – have failed to show any risk or demonstrate the low-dose theory of effect exists or is relevant to humans. These studies have been carried out by independent organizations with no vested interest in the chemical, such as the EPA, or supervised by the European Union, which has the most risk averse regulations on chemical risks. The studies have been published in the most prestigious academic journals and form the basis for the decision by the EU, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and, thus far, the U.S., that the public is not at risk from the chemical. There is no statistical, or epidemiological evidence of the kind that demonstrates a risk from Tobacco. None. Your comments are merely assertions, driven by neither data nor logic. In sum, nonsense.

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