Everyone is talking today about the Congressional showdown between Democrats and Republicans considering the financial overhaul bill. But there is another bill making headlines today, and lo and behold, this bill's controversy swirls around the inclusion of an amendment to ban BPA (or bisphenol-A) from food and beverage containers.
The bill coming before the Senate in the coming weeks is designed to give the Food and Drug Administration new regulatory authority over food production and place greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to produce food free from contamination. It had broad support from both political parties and the White House.
But business groups said last week that they oppose an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would ban BPA from food and beverage containers. In a letter to Congressional leaders, Scott Faber — vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food companies and retailers — stated "we will not support food safety legislation that bans or phases out BPA from any food and beverage container."
The FDA said in January that it had "some concern" about possible health effects linked to BPA but did not have enough reason to restrict its use and would study the question over 18 to 24 months. Faber's letter told senators, "we trust the FDA to complete a safety assessment for BPA, and we don't think the Senate should short-circuit and undermine the FDA," adding that a ban would create significant problems for many food manufacturers that do not have BPA-free alternative packaging.
As a greenie who has been seen study after study linking BPA to a range of health concerns, including cancer and developmental and reproductive problems, the position of the Food and Beverage industry is frustrating, if not surprising. I hope this BPA amendment does not get dropped, and I'll be watching closely as this bill hits the Senate floor before the Memorial Day recess.