A retired medical supply manufacturer who considers bisphenol A to be “perfectly safe” gave $5 million to the research center headed by the chairman of a Food and Drug Administration panel about to rule on the chemical’s safety.
The July donation from Charles Gelman is nearly 50 times the annual budget of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, where Martin Philbert is founder and co-director. Philbert did not disclose the donation to the FDA, and agency officials learned of it when reporters asked about it.
Norris Alderson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for science, looked into the matter and said he was satisfied that there was no conflict of interest because Philbert’s salary is not paid by the donation.
Gelman said he considers the chemical, which is used to make baby bottles and aluminum can liners, to be safe. Worries about health risks posed by the chemical are exaggerated by “mothers’ groups and others who don’t know the science,” Gelman said.
He said he had made his views clear to Philbert in several conversations.
Philbert denied that.
“At no time have the Gelman family or any other interested/disinterested person, persons, corporations or other entity contacted me or attempted to influence my scientific judgment on the matter,” Philbert wrote in an e-mail.
Philbert’s committee is expected to release its opinion this month. It will advise the FDA on a draft assessment released by the agency in September. That draft found that products made with bisphenol A are safe for food storage.
The decision of Philbert’s committee is expected to have huge implications on the regulation and sale of the chemical in items such as baby bottles, reusable food containers and plastic wraps.
Since the late 1990s, studies have linked bisphenol A to cancer, heart disease, obesity, reproductive failures and hyperactivity in laboratory animals.
Gelman, a retired manufacturer of syringes and medical filtration devices, has fought against government regulation of pollutants for years.
He is an anti-regulation activist and an outspoken supporter of organizations such as JunkScience.com, the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute that attack the credibility of government and academic scientists on such topics as global warming and hazardous chemicals.
Gelman said he and Philbert talk often. He said Philbert eventually told him that he did not want to have any more discussions on the subject of bisphenol A because he was concerned about the appearance of impropriety. But, Gelman said, “He knows where I stand.”
Philbert steadfastly denied any conflict of interest.
“Until today, no question has been raised with respect to my impartiality in this matter,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I am not open to any undue influence and have taken on this (unwelcome) task with all due diligence and seriousness.”
ummmm. ok. yeah, sure…..
- FDA Declares Bisphenol-A Plastics Chemical to be Safe, Relying on Industry-Funded Studies
by David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) Testifying before the Senate, FDA Associate Commissioner for Science Norris Alderson insisted that products made with bisphenol A (BPA) are safe, even though a number of studies have implicated it as a carcinogen and hormone mimic.
BPA is used to make a variety of consumer products, such as hard, translucent water and baby bottles or the linings of food cans. Animal studies have linked the chemical to neurological and behavioral defects in infants and children, as well as early puberty and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. In April, the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program ruled that there was cause for concern that exposure to BPA could cause health problems in humans.
Alderson admitted that the FDA has relied on two industry-funded studies to prove that BPA is safe, but said the agency is now reviewing the National Toxicology Program’s findings.
Democratic senators blasted the agency for its failure to take action on BPA, particularly in infant products.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York Democrat accused the FDA of “looking the other way.”
“Parents always err on the side of caution when it comes to their kids’ health. We think that the law should do the same,” he said
“The FDA could hardly be doing less,” agreed former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Kerry and Schumer are among the senators who have introduced a bill to ban BPA from children’s products and direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the chemical’s human health effects. They have also criticized the FDA for failing to act on the plastic-softening chemicals known as phthalates, which are also believed to disrupt the hormonal system.
Following the findings of the National Toxicology Program and a ban on BPA-containing infant bottles in Canada, major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have begun pulling products made with BPA from their shelves in the United States as well.
Sources for this story include: http://www.reuters.com.