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US: FDA allows continued use of BPALate last week regulators rejected an appeal from environmental groups to ban an industrial chemical known as bisphenol-A (BPA), stating that there was insufficient evidence that it caused harm to humans.
The FDA did say, however, that this was not its final word in the matter and expressed it support for further research into the matter.
The Natural Resources Defense Council had sought a ban on the chemical from food containers and packaging and may materials that were likely to come into contact with food. They cited studies carried out on laboratory animals that appeared to show hormone disruption, brain changes, chromosomal abnormality and some cancers.
They also claimed that emerging evidence from humans suggests a possible link between exposure to BPA and altered child behaviour, miscarriage, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and sexual dysfunction.
"The FDA denied the NRDC petition because it did not have the scientific data needed for the FDA to change current regulations, which allows the use of BPA in food packaging," said a statement from FDA spokesman Doug Karas.
"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans and the public health impact of BPA."
Karas said that FDA research demonstrated that exposure to BPA in humans was less than had previously been thought by between 84 and 92%.
The studies on animals also seem to demonstrate the BPA does not pass easily between pregnant mothers and their unborn offspring.
"Researchers fed pregnant rodents 100 to 1,000 times more BPA than people are exposed to through food, and could not detect the active form of BPA in the fetus eight hours after the mother's exposure," Karas said.
He also pointed out that comparison of human intake of any chemical to that administered in a laboratory setting was fundamentally flawed as oral ingestion and consequent metabolic function renders the chemical less effective than when it is injected driectyl.
The NRDC's citizen petition was presented to the FDA in 2008. The group later sued the FDA in 2011 for failing to respond, giving US regulators until March 31 to issue an answer.
BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic bottles and as a lining in fod and drinks cans.
its effects on humans was first assessed by the FDA in 1996 and became a concern after it emerged following the revelation that it had a toxic effect on the brains and nervous systems of laboratory animals.
Several nations have either banned or regulated the use of BPA, or introduced a set of voluntary guidelines. For examples the EU and Canada - and some US states - have prohibited the use of BPA in children's products.
Naturally there is disappointment from the NRDC over the latest ruling.
"BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call," said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the NRDC.
Publication date: 4/3/2012
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