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Taking On The BPA Lobby

If the recent controversy over BPA has your head spinning, consider taking the time to read The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A by David Case. It’s the most comprehensive article on BPA and the monied interests surrounding it I’ve come across to date. Case makes the case (sorry) that the BPA debate is not entirely about the science, but rather a powerful lobby looking to sow the seeds of doubt regarding the risks of BPA.

The debate even continues past the end of the article into the comments section where at least two commentors, claiming no particular axe to grind, pan the article and one of them is directly responded to by none other than Dr. Frederick vom Saal, BPA researcher and a leading advocate for the health risks of BPA. You gotta love the internet.

A significant portion of Case’s article deals with the shadowy world of the product-defense industry. First of all, can you even believe such a thing exists? Then again when you consider the $6 billion a year BPA industry it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are people out there looking for a piece of that pie.

Using their credentials as scientists, product-defense firms look to, for a (large) fee, validate the claims of the corporations and trade associations that hire them by providing expert testimony in lawsuits along with other lobbiest-style activities. Various product-defense firms have lobbied on behalf of the manufacturers of MTBE, perchlorate, Fen-phen and Agent Orange, among others. Yikes! Why such testimony is even allowed in a court of law is somewhat of a mystery. Do we allow murder suspects to hire "eye witnesses" to provide testimony on their behalf? I’ll bet it’s happened, but it damn sure isn’t legal. Paid testimony just seems so, how should I put it…wrong.

Case also goes on to elaborate on the US track record for banning harmful substances. It took years, decades in some cases, to ban lead, DDT and PCB’s. Furthermore, the US approach to chemical management, with the burden of proof being placed on the consumer, is fundamentally flawed. Rather than corporations having to prove their products are safe, it is left to us to prove they are not. That just seems so, how should I put it…wrong.

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