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Earlier this week, House and Senate leaders initiated legislation which would put a federal ban on the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in not just baby bottles, but all food and beverage containers.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) introduced the bills just a day after Sunoco announced to investors that it was refusing to sell BPA to companies for use in food and beverage containers for children under 3, saying that it could not ensure the chemical’s safety.

Last October, when the FDA would not regulate BPA in baby bottles, attorneys general from New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut sent letters to 11 companies that manufacture baby bottles and formula containers, asking them to voluntarily stop using BPA to produce these products because of the chemical’s potential threat to infant health. Last week, six baby-bottle makers, including Playtex and Gerber, finally capitulated, and announced that they would stop using BPA to make baby bottles.

BPA, which is used in the production of polycarbonate plastic (which makes up our CDs, DVDs, water bottles, Tupperware and eyeglass lenses) as well as polyesters and epoxy resins, is a known endocrine disruptor. In animal tests, it has been shown to interfere with proper hormone function, resulting in increased rates of diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, obesity, early puberty, and reproductive and neurological problems. Recent studies also indicate that BPA interferes with the effects of chemotherapy in breast-cancer patients.

Though the FDA has taken the industry-friendly position for many years that BPA is “safe” for human use, members of Congress have accused the agency of cherry picking research to support its BPA approval, noting that its entire evaluation relied on only two studies, both of which were funded by the American Chemistry Council (which represents plastic resins manufacturers), and one of which was never even published or peer reviewed.

A federal ban on BPA in all food and beverage containers is necessary for the sake of American consumer health in all stages of life. Please offer your enthusiastic support for this new legislation.

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