Financial companies and others urge FDA to use independent science in reassessing BPAâ€™s safety
Washington, DC â€“ A coalition of investors and other groups representing over $26 billion in assets yesterday sent a letter to Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Agency (FDA), applauding her recent decision to reassess the safety of bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial chemical used in can linings and hard plastics.
BPA is known to leach from can linings into food and beverages, and has been found in the urine of over 90% of Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Despite evidence linking the chemical to cancer, diabetes, developmental damage, and heart disease in animals, the FDA has maintained its assessment to date that BPA is â€œsafe.â€
â€œAs investors, weâ€™re concerned that the use of BPA, particularly in food and beverage packaging, may threaten shareholder value. Companies may face reputational, competitive, or market exclusion risks from using BPA. We are thrilled that the FDA is reconsidering its assessment,â€ stated Emily Stone of Green Century Capital Management (â€œGreen Centuryâ€), the investment advisory firm that organized the letter.
The letter, signed by 27 investors, investment advisory companies, foundations, and shareholder advocacy groups, urged the FDA to â€œensure that sound independent, unbiased science is used to reach its final assessmentâ€ of the safety of BPA. The agency has come under fire from many, including its own scientific subcommittee, for depending too heavily on industry data in its prior assessment of BPAâ€™s safety.
Notes released from a recent â€œJoint BPA Trade Associationâ€ meeting demonstrate industryâ€™s desire to continue playing a role in preventing BPA regulation. According to the notes, participants discussed strategy to â€œprotect industries that use BPA [and] prolong the life of BPA,â€ including the use of fear tactics and identifying a â€œholy grailâ€ spokesperson–a pregnant womanâ€”to defend BPA.
Despite the FDAâ€™s position, states such as Connecticut and Minnesota have enacted bans on bisphenol A for some products, and the city of Chicago recently instituted a similar city-wide ban on sippy cups and baby bottles containing BPA.
Some companies are also taking steps to address increasing consumer concern about BPA. The six largest U.S. baby bottle manufacturers made a commitment to eliminate the chemical from products sold in the U.S. in March, and earlier this year a major U.S. chemical manufacturer announced a voluntary policy limiting BPA sales for uses exposing children under 3 to the chemical.
According to yesterdayâ€™s letter, however, â€œthe lack of regulation by the federal government creates disincentives for companies to invest in the research, development, and deployment of alternatives.â€ An April report authored by Green Century and letter signatory As You Sow analyzing the use of BPA in the packaged food and beverage industry found that companies surveyed were taking insufficient steps to move toward alternatives.
â€œIt seems that every week brings news of yet another scientific research finding adding to the evidence that BPA is hazardous,â€ stated Richard Liroff, Executive Director of the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN). â€œThe FDA should act expeditiously to align its regulatory guidance with the burgeoning science; this will provide a strong signal to the marketplace to speed the transition to safer alternatives.â€
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Green Century Capital Management is an investment advisory firm focused on environmentally responsible investing. Founded by a partnership of non-profit environmental advocacy organizations in 1991, Green Centuryâ€™s mission is to provide people who care about a clean, healthy planet the opportunity to use the clout of their investment dollars to encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Green Century believes that shareholder advocacy is a critical component of responsible investing and actively advocates for greater corporate environmental accountability.
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