Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Another Misadventure of Fact-Challenged Anti-BPA Activists

I think you should read a very informative online article about a recent

event in the ongoing activist attacks on Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in a few plastics, including the epoxy liners of food cans that prevent botulism and spoilage. It’s an enlightening, easy to understand piece of scientific journalism with sharp insights on the chemiphobic and/or plastiphobic activists.

The article is on the Forbes website, the author is Jon Entine, and the title is “Bisphenol A (BPA) Found Not Harmful, Yet Again — So Why Did So Many Reporters and NGOs Botch Coverage, Yet Again?” In it, Entine, a senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Communication at George Mason University, describes how a press release from the University of California titled “BPA’s Real Threat May Be After It Has Metabolized” about a recent BPA study quickly turned into articles on numerous websites, including those of well-known news sources and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Many of the NGOs and journalists are anti-BPA activists that have been on the attack BPA for years, so the press release headline likely caused them to think the new study may be what they need to finally bring about the banning of the chemical. The articles they quickly published carried headlines such as “BPA is Bad to the Bone, Now We Know Why,” and “New studies add fuel to concerns over BPA.” Some reprinted the press release verbatim.

But there was a catch. As Entine writes, the “…study, when analyzed, does not support that view. Rather, it provides additional confirmation of the unlikelihood that BPA or many other so-called “endocrine disrupting” chemicals pose serious health threats.” The catch is in the words “when analyzed.” Since the NGOs and activist journalists were predisposed to believe BPA was bad—despite more than a dozen reviews of BPA by independent government scientists since 2007 that concluded the current uses of the chemical are safe—it appears they did not examine the study, instead going solely with the misleading press release.

With the study’s erroneous rise to prominence as his starting point, Entine goes on to provide a broad commentary on the chemophobia-driven, crusade against BPA. He even provides clear information on how BPA is processed and disposed of by the human body. The article is a compact education about BPA and the anti-BPA crusade. Sadly, it’s wasted on those who need it most.

There is little reason to think the NGOs, labs, websites and others

with vested interests in advocating against BPA will read, let alone accept, the facts Jon Entine presents. Besides being prisoners of their ingrained beliefs, their continuing livelihoods require not accepting such facts. Evidence of that is apparent in the reader comments on Entine’s article. Many commenters make it clear by what they write that they are true believers, largely ignoring or denying the facts. To his credit, Entine patiently—for the most part—responds specifically to each comment. It’s an enlightening dialog with the chemiphobic and plastiphobic.

If you want to better understand the continuing anti-BPA activism, and like your information factual and brilliantly presented, Entine’s article and his responses to the comments are well worth your time. The information here just scratches the surface.

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