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FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Date:10/31/2008

BPA widely used in baby bottles, food containers; has been linked to diabetes, heart disease

FRIDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel agreed Friday that the agency had erred in August when it said that a chemical widely used in baby bottles and other plastic packaging for foods and beverages posed no health risks.

On Wednesday, a panel of toxicology experts said the FDA hadn't properly assessed the potential health risks posed by the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which some studies have linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and developmental delays in children. The toxicologists said the FDA had relied too heavily on studies funded by the chemical industry to make its decision, and had failed to consider other studies that questioned the safety of BPA.

The panel of toxicologists had been convened by the FDA after the agency ruled that BPA was safe at current exposure levels -- a stance that prompted criticism from some lawmakers and consumer groups.

On Friday, the FDA's Science Board, which consists of scientists from academia, government and industry and advises the FDA commissioner, seconded the toxicologists' concerns about the FDA's August ruling. The issue will now go to FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. It's unclear how the FDA might respond, the Washington Post reported.

"Let me be clear: There's no shame for having" your hypothesis disproved, von Eschenbach said during Friday's session, referring to BPA without mentioning it by name, the Dow Jones news service reported.

The FDA's position on BPA has been controversial because it contradicted more than 100 studies, as well as a finding by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, that there was "some concern" that BPA may affect the brain and behavioral development in fetuses, infants and small children, the Post said.

Norris Alderson, associate commissio
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