Regulating Rumors: The BPA-Free Kids Act

Senator Charles Schumer cares a lot about the milk your children drink- why else would he want to make sure you to buy only the most expensive baby bottles and sippy cups on the market?

I’ve written before (here and here) about the BPA controversies – now, thanks to Senator Schumer, parents may have no choice but to buy expensive BPA-free baby products.

Senator Schumer recently introduced the BPA-Free Kids Act, which would prohibit the manufacture or sale of bisphenol-A infused food and beverage containers to children and toddlers.  BPA is a hot topic these days everywhere from nurseries to Newsweek.  The chemical, which is used in many common plastics, is rumored to cause a number of troubling health issues, including cancer and obesity.

Despite what you may have heard in the media, BPA’s harmful effects have not been conclusively proven; in fact, a brand new independent study released by the EPA found that current BPA levels are quite safe. The FDA has also determined that the chemical is safe. This, paired with the fact that special BPA-free plastics are astronomically expensive, should make us wonder who really stands to gain from this proposed ban – our children, or those who produce specialty plastics?

BPA-free plastics manufacturers are certainly benefitting, regardless of the actual risk to our children:

Ron Vigdor, the founder and CEO of BornFree, sells trust. More precisely, he sells baby bottles for about $5.50 that are guaranteed to contain no bisphenol A, a chemical that is widely used in $1 baby bottles.

…Vigdor began selling his bottles in Whole Foods grocery stores in 2006, and his production capacity has grown to 1 million a year. The established companies – which sell about 60 million baby bottles annually – are now marketing their own BPA-free bottles and cutting production of older models.

… To boost press coverage, Vigdor hired Fenton Communications, which specializes in political advocacy and was already engaged with other anti-BPA outfits, such as the Environmental Working Group.  Vigdor’s market gets a boost every time the media publicize a report on BPA’s possible hazards…

You may recall from one of my previous posts that Fenton Communications is the same firm behind the “General Betray-Us” attack campaign:

“Putting aside the fact that the claims were entirely bogus, the fear campaign against BPA was a brilliant business move for Fenton-and a win/win/win for liberals.  David Fenton… represents many radical environmental groups like the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, who could benefit from creating a bogey man.  And he also represents trial lawyers, who could make millions by bringing about class action lawsuits against the manufacturers of plastics.  Lastly, trial lawyers are major donors to Democratic politicians, so getting them on board was easy.  And plastics competitors who didn’t use BPA could now charge absurd prices for their products at upscale stores like Whole Foods, based on the fact that their product (though more expensive) was ostensibly “safer.”

BPA has been given such a bad name that worried parents can’t buy these unnecessarily expensive BPA-free plastics quickly enough.  The sheer volume of money generated by the BPA-scare campaign makes one wonder why Senator Schumer is so eager to regulate the cycle with his proposed ban.  Perhaps he really does care about the milk your children drink – or perhaps he has met some very persuasive lobbyists.  Either way, why has the media all but ignored the studies in which BPA is vindicated? ‘

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Rachel Motte

Rachel Motte is a freelance writer, journalist and editor specializing in social issues, educational affairs, and international religious freedom. Her work has appeared at, The Evangelical Outpost, The New Ledger, the Daily Caller, and in Jonah Goldberg’s recent anthology, Proud to Be Right. She is an alumna of Biola University, the Torrey Honors Institute, the Leadership Institute, and the World Journalism Institute. Rachel may be reached at rachel[at]rachelmotte[dot]com.