It was supposed to be here by the end of November, but now it looks like it may be months or even years before the FDA officially offers its updated position on BPA, or bisphenol A. The agency is apparently waiting to see the results of a host of new government-funded studies before taking a stance on the contentious issue of banning BPA from products designed for children.
The results from some of the studies will be available in a few months; others will take years. It's unclear exactly how long the agency will postpone its decision.
The FDA has been presented with a number of studies in support of a BPA ban, including animal studies showing that large doses of BPA can cause abnormal sexual development. However, there is bitter disagreement among scientists about the risk posed by the small doses most people are exposed to.
This FDA delay is unexpected for those who have been watching and waiting for the agency to make a decision. In June, the FDA's new chief, Margaret Hamburg, promised that the agency would reconsider its earlier conclusion that BPA is safe. A few months later, the FDA's Science Advisory Board held a public hearing during which the board received testimony from many groups calling on the FDA to ban BPA from food and beverage containers. The FDA seemed poised to act on that information. But in October, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it would spend $30 million on a new round of BPA studies.
Granted, it would be silly for one government agency to make a steadfast decision on the BPA issue while another government agency is throwing millions of dollars into researching it. But doesn't the FDA have enough information right now to at least update its previous position (declaring BPA as completely safe?) At the very least, it would be helpful if the FDA declared a date by which they will officially announce their BPA position. Because without a doubt, by the time the NIH is nearing its study completion, there will be other studies just beginning ... just how long will the FDA wait?
What do you think? Should the FDA act now on BPA or wait several months (or even years) for more data to support their position?
Photo: marcelo varsiana