Bisphenol A Bill Killed with a Pow-Wow and a Bottle of Chardonnay

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A Republican state senator in Oregon cleverly killed a state bill to ban bisphenol A when he reneged on a deal he made with Democrat senator. The bill to ban bisphenol-A in baby bottles (SB 695) had received bipartisan support in a 20-9 vote in April. With such support, people predicted it would continue to committee, but the GOP had other plans.

Oregon Senator Jackie Dingfelder, D-Portland, recounted an agreement she had made with Oregon House environment committee co-chair, Representative Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton. Apparently the two worked out that he would initiate a work session on SB 695 in exchange for committee action on some other bills. According to Dingfelder, Gilliam ditched his end of the bargain and effectively squashed the bill. Gilliam then sent Dingfelder a bottle of Chardonnay and a scrawled note that read: "After all I put you thru yesterday - it is a tribute to your character that you would keep the 1st and 2 parts of our pow-wow inspite of it all."[sic]

Dingfelder told reporters that Gilliam's reasons for dropping the bill were unclear - he indicated the GOP pressured him. One Republican lawmaker offered: "it's not because I want to kill children".

Plastics industry lobbyists had also campaigned against the bill. For instance the American Chemistry Council wrote a letter in early May to Ben Cannon and Vic Gilliam, co-chairs of the state House Energy, Environment and Water Committee. In the letter, ACC used isolated quotes from government agencies about research on canned and packaged food to argue incongruously that polycarbonate baby bottles shouldn't be banned. The letter also misrepresented the US FDA position. The FDA is especially concerned about the endocrine disrupting effects of BPA on babies, and advises parents to avoid using bottles with BPA. It advocates alternatives to BPA lined food containers. Yet the ACC letter stated "optimistically" that the FDA said BPA is "not unsafe" (safe).

Representative Gilliam also voted against a plastic bag ban, noting he thought they should be recycled instead. He said he was disappointed Dingfelder had released their personal correspondence to reporters.

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2 Comments

It's interesting to see how poor a job most of the media is doing covering this story: major lobbying is reversing much momentum on safety regulation for BPA.

However, many parents (and patients of mine) haven't forgotten of course and are sticking to the choice to remove and keep plastics out their houses, and continue to mention BPA in their office visits. No amount of lobbying by companies like Coca Cola is going to change that.

On a similar note, people that I ordinarily would not think of up-to-date these type of environmental issues have reported taking action to remove chemicals, solvents and cleaners from their homes in favor of simple old-school things like vinegar & water. I think the people are farther along than marketers, news media and politicians realize - and much credit goes to the Internet and coverage such as on blogs like this one.

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