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April 27, 2010
2:41 PM

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Food Industry Threatens to Kill Food Safety Bill if BPA Restrictions Included

Four Senators at Center of Debate Over Toxic Plastics Chemical

WASHINGTON - April 27 - As the Senate prepares to take up a massive food safety reform bill, the food industry is threatening to kill the bill if it includes restrictions on toxic bisphenol A in food packaging and containers. The decision is in the hands of four senators who must choose between appeasing special-interest industry demands and responding to growing scientific and consumer concern about the serious negative health effects associated with BPA exposure.

The Senate health committee is considering incorporating into the Food Safety Modernization Act some version of legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that seeks to ban BPA from all food and beverage containers regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The key committee members chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa, ranking majority member Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and ranking Republican members Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

In a story published Monday in The Washington Post (http://bit.ly/cDD1Hr), Feinstein said: “I feel very strongly that the government should protect people from harmful chemicals. BPA should be addressed as a part of the food safety overhaul.” Earlier, she told Politico that if her legislation is not added to the bill before it goes to the floor, she would offer some form of her proposal as a floor amendment.

The Post also reported that the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have told Harkin and Enzi that they will not support the food safety bill if it includes BPA restrictions. Janet Nudelman, policy director for the Breast Cancer Fund, called the threat “irresponsible and obstructionist.”

“The Senate has a critical question before it: At the end of the day who are they accountable to —an industry that is fighting science and consumer demand, or infants, kids and pregnant women who need to be protected from this toxic chemical?” said Nudelman.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, a national network of more than 1 million moms, agreed. “The food industry’s threat to block the food safety bill if it contains a provision to more strictly regulate BPA shows a disregard for protecting the health and safety of its own customers,” said Rowe-Finkbeiner.

Nudelman pointed to the enormous body of evidence illustrating BPA’s harm.

“Food-based exposures to BPA have been restricted in five states and 13 more are considering doing the same,” she said. Consumers are demanding BPA-free products, and manufacturers and retailers are responding. Everyone, regardless of where they shop or what state they live in, should have access to BPA-free food products. Only Congress can ensure that.”

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