NGOs Urge FDA to Impose a Ban on Chemical Bisphenol A (BPA)

Over 50 health and environmental groups today asked the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to take action that will protect babies from an endocrine disrupting chemical called Bisphenol A or BPA.

In a letter sent to Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Director of the FDA, the groups urged the agency to ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of children’s food and beverage containers such as baby bottles and feeding cups containing BPA.

BPA, a chemical used to manufacture hard polycarbonate plastic containers, is widely used in clear plastic bottles and in food-can liners. 

Studies have linked BPA to numerous health concerns such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, coronary heart disease, obesity, Type II diabetes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reproductive abnormalities, the groups pointed out.

The requested action by the FDA will put the Philippines in the same league with countries that have banned BPA in baby bottles such as Canada (2008), France (2010), the 27 member states of European Union (2011), China (2011), USA (2012) and Taiwan (2013), the groups noted.

Not content with only banning BPA in baby bottles, the groups cited the “French example,” which prohibits the use of BPA in all food contact materials. 

By 2015, France will prohibit “the manufacture, import, export and commercialization of all forms of food packaging containing BPA,” the groups said.

“An immediate ban on BPA in baby bottles and a phase-out plan for its use in all food contact materials, in line with the precautionary principle, will reduce children’s exposure to BPA in the food supply,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Banning it will also serve as a deterrent against dumping of BPA-laden baby bottles from overseas into our ports and markets,” she added.

“Strict labeling requirements should also be enforced so that consumers will have an easy and reliable way of knowing if a product is BPA-free or not,” she said.

In test buys conducted in Divisoria last Sunday, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol bought 10 pieces of baby feeding bottles and none of the samples provided information about their BPA content.

The 15th Congress has taken notice of the issue with some legislative measures filed, noted the groups. 

Sen. Lito Lapid and Rep.Mitch Cajayon filed the “Bisphenol A Ban Act,” while Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago authored the “BPA in Baby Products Prohibition Act.”

Sen. Santiago’s proposed  bill will ban BPA in “any reusable baby food or beverage container or any infant formula or baby food stored in a plastic container, can or jar.”

To ensure that the BPA replacement will not pose a health risk, Santiago’s bill also requires that “manufacturers shall not replace BPA with substances that are known carcinogens, those that have carcinogenic potentials, likely carcinogens, known to be human carcinogens, likely to be human carcinogens, or suggestive of  being carcinogens, and those with reproductive toxicants.”

In June 2011, the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest physician group in US, voted to adopt a new policy “recognizing BPA as an endocrine-disrupting agent.”

The AMA said that BPA-containing products with the potential for human exposure should be clearly identified, and that it supports the industry initiatives to stop the manufacturing of BPA-containing baby bottles and feeding cups and the ban on their sale.

Among the groups that sought FDA’s policy action against BPA were the EcoWaste Coalition, Arugaan-Save the Babies Coalition, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Greenpeace, partylist group “Ang NARS”, Philippine Medical Association, Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc.,  Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology and the group Upholding Life and Nature.