Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers



Bisphenol A in the press


background on BPA

Science and policy on bisphenol A took steps forward in April 2005, with a publication in Environmental Health Perspectives by Dr. Frederick vom Saal and Dr. Claude Hughes and a bill in the California Legislature proposed by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan.

The commentary by vom Saal and Hughes provides an overview of health effects caused in animal experiments by exposures to low levels of bisphenol A. It also describes a striking pattern of research bias, in which industry funded studies published to date invariably report no adverse effects of low level BPA exposures. In contrast, the vast majority of government-funded studies do find adverse effects.

Chan's proposal for legislation would prohibit the manufacture or sale of any product intended for use by a child 3 years of age or younger, if it contains bisphenol A.

These advances have provoked considerable opposition by industry. Their responses have taken two forms to date (30 April 2005): press interviews in which they assert that 'many weak studies suggesting harm don't trump a few strong ones showing no effect' and assertions that prior assessments establish the safety of BPA. These prior assessments include two by government (the US EPA in 1988 and the EU in 2001) and one by the Harvard Center for Risk Assessment published in 2004 (but closed to new research findings in April 2002). As vom Saal and Hughes show, these reviews were all complete before most relevant studies of low dose effects of bisphenol A were available. Hence they are out-of-date.

As in often the case in these science policy fights, industry positions span a spectrum, from centrist 'we need more science before acting because the evidence isn't conclusive' to vitriolic, ad hominem personal attacks on integrity. They regularly contain significant errors in scientific understanding.

Two voices regularly and predictably heard on this extreme part of the specturm have just published commentaries about bisphenol A, no doubt stimulated by the proposed legislation in California and the commentary by vom Saal and Hughes: Steve Milloy, the writer of junkscience.com, and Gilbert Ross, the medical director at the American Council on Science and Health, an industry PR operation.

Added 21 October 2005: Investigative reporting by Mother Jones revealed that Gilbert Ross was convicted of medical fraud and perjury in 1995, and that, after serving time in jail, as recently as 2004 he was misrepresenting this incident by failing to acknowledge the conviction in a New York State application form.
Link to Mother Jones article


And once again, their contributions are riddled with errors and misrepresentations. Milloy's commentary ignores the last 10 years of scientific research on endocrine disruption, asserts that vom Saal is alone in the scientific community on concerns about BPA, and makes incorrect statements about the range of BPA exposures shown to cause adverse effects. Ross makes the bizarre argument that the debate over BPA is one more example of high dose exposures to rats not being relevant to assessing low dose risks for people. The debate is about adverse effects seen in experiments using low doses within the range to which people are demonstrably exposed. It appears that he hasn't read any of the relevant science, even that of industry.

For the original text of these screeds plus a point-by-point analysis of their errors, follow these links: Milloy or Ross.






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