The BPA cabal gets a letter

Here is an interesting follow-up to the leaked meeting minutes of the BPA cabal. Henry Waxman's Energy and Commerce Committee has a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. As a result of reports in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Washington Post about the meeting minutes of BPA spinmeisters (the full contents of the memo were posted here and then by the Environmental Working Group), Waxman and Sub-Committee Chair Bart Stupak have sent the following letter to Dr. John Rost, Chair of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. (the tin can people who line their cans with a coating containing BPA):

Dear Dr. Rost:

The Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have been investigating the possible dangers of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in consumer products and food product containers, particularly in infant formula containers and other items used by infants and children.

Over the past week, both the Washington Post and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel have reported on a recent meeting of the BPA Joint Trade Association at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. during which industry officials discussed a public relations strategy to counter efforts to regulate BPA.

Internal notes from the meeting obtained by the Post state that industry representatives discussed "using fear tactics [e.g. 'Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?,]." The notes also state that the group focused on "befriending people that are able to manipulate the legislative process. According to the Journal-Sentinel, industry officials "hammered out" a public relations strategy they hoped would include the "holy grail" of "showcasing a pregnant woman to talk about the chemical's benefits.

We request that you provide the following documents to the Committee:

1. All documents and communications, including talking points, minutes, summaries, memoranda, media statements, e-mails, and drafts of any such documents, relating to meetings of the BPA Joint Trade Association in April and May 2009, including documents and communications created by the date of this request;

2. A list of all attendees at these meetings, including their affiliations and contact information; and

3. A list of all members of the BPA Joint Trade Association, including their contact information.

Please provide these documents by June 16,2009.

Meanwhile, Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (award winning journalists whose investigative reporting has been pivotal in bringing this story to public attention) give the industry response to the leaked minutes. They do not deny its authenticity but seek to explain it this way:

Rost said Tuesday that he was too busy to talk to reporters.

However, the association posted a press release Saturday on its Web site defending its tactics.

"Should it come as a surprise that our industry seeks to defend the legitimate scientific process that has concluded BPA is safe to use in food contact applications?" the press release reads. "Should it be viewed as a scandal that the accumulated frustration of the industry leads to consideration of alternative means of communication? We think not." (J-SOnline)

What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

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More proof that this blog is written by industry shills! Oh, wait....

What a terrific step in the right direction! Way to go, Rep. Waxman, and kudos to the fine reporters on this story, and to the Reveres for backing it up and spreading the word!

Is this the stuff that UC Irvine Biology dept. professors (specializing in cancer research) say causes cancer?

My son came back from summer research warning me about canned food liners (particularly dented cans) and plastic water bottles; My reaction was "Why haven't I heard of this before, and why isn't it illegal?"

By MacDougall (not verified) on 03 Jun 2009 #permalink

I heard the response from an industry representantive yesterday on a NPR news show. To me it sounded like, yes, they did discuss these topics, but only to make a point that their opponents are currently using such tactics. I'm not sure that's the best defense against the statements, but I can see how a bitter person at an industry meeting might make them. Even

I currently work in an academic toxicology lab, and though it's not directly what I'm researching I have read some part of the scientific research on the topic of BPA. At one level it's easy to see that BPA does do some alarming things in some animals. On the other hand, such results aren't reproducible in every system and the actual dose range received by humans is tough to work out. I still drink out of my old-fashioned beatup Nalgene bottle.

By ABradford (not verified) on 04 Jun 2009 #permalink

Hit post before finishing writing, in the middle there it should say

Even so, I think it's entirely appropriate to look into such statements.

By ABradford (not verified) on 04 Jun 2009 #permalink

Great stuff here. I linked to it during my recent argument with National Review pundit Mark Hemingway. He blames the BPA health concerns on trial lawyers and sensationalist journalism. He needed to be taken down a peg.