For anyone who has ever tried to live a healthier lifestyle, it is inevitable that at some point in your health journey you will conclude that big corporations and government are trying to kill you. You have to go to great lengths to purchase non-GMO, organically grown food, fluoride-free toothpaste, water filtration systems, and BPA-free containers to store and transport your food, maybe even for your entire family. A lot of effort, time, and expense has to be devoted to health when all you really want to do is avoid toxic foods and focus on other areas of your life.
Although I don’t believe it is a conspiracy theory that the government is consciously trying to harm its own citizens, once we as a nation stopped providing food for our own tables and left it to someone else to do, it opened the door to the amoral system we have today. A system that, at its very core, has only one goal in mind—to make money.
By abdicating our direct control of our food system, we unwittingly empowered a system that completely protects and abets its own self-interests. Today, the food, chemical, and plastics industries are multibillion dollar industries that make their own rules and make a mockery of regulatory oversight.
The fight against large corporations and industry is nothing new. In the 1970s, Americans came out in unprecedented numbers to demonstrate in the streets against the harmful and toxic pollutants being dumped into our streams and waterways by large corporations. And the government responded with the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency. Though today’s EPA looks nothing like it was originally intended, it did successfully check the indiscriminate dumping of toxins into our nation’s rivers and streams and went a long way in reversing the damage to our waterways.
Today’s food fight is much more multifaceted, but the enemy is the same–big corporations and big government–all of which got me curious about how far we have come in the fight against one of our more long-standing battles, that of eliminating BPA in food packaging. And it is discouraging to say the least.
For decades, studies on BPA have shown that it can leach into food and drink and that more than 90% of Americans have some BPA in their bodies. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a synthetic hormone found in almost everything from the linings of food and drink cans to cell phones, computers, eyeglasses, baby bottles and drinking bottles, and has been shown in independent studies to harm the reproduction system and human brain, affecting the endocrine system and possibly harming the genes of future generations.
In the United States, chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise, which means that the thousands of chemicals registered for use have never undergone a government safety review. Not surprising then is that of the more than 100 independently funded tests on BPA, about 90% found evidence that human exposure to BPA is harmful but industry-funded studies–all 14–found no such link. Clearly the plastics and chemical industries have much at stake in BPA being found not harmful.
One thing that appears to not be disputed in the collective science, however, is that babies exposed to BPA by being fed canned formula via polycarbonate bottles are at the highest risk from BPA. It is also undisputed that BPA mimics the female sex hormone estrogen, and that some synthetic estrogens can cause infertility and cancer.
The FDA continues to deem BPA safe, and therein is the biggest obstacle facing the banning of BPA. Rather than being the watch dog it was intended, the FDA has become a partner to the chemical and food industries. Today, nearly all of the 130 billion food and beverage cans made in the United States each year are still lined with a BPA resin. Clearly, we cannot eradicate the use of BPA until we fix the broken system of industry-funded studies and our regulatory agencies.
More than three decades into the fight to ban BPA, Canada, the European Union, China, and even Maylaysia have all banned the use of BPA in many products. But no so in the United States. While some states and local governments in the United States have banned BPA in some products, usually products for young children or babies, there has been no such vote in Congress to ban BPA. So maybe, just maybe, they do want to kill us after all.
As with any great change, until the consumer refuses to purchase mass produced products that contain BPA, the industry will continue to use it. The good news is that because we are living in the age of information, people are waking up in greater numbers to what our government and industries are really up to. Gone is the day when most Americans believe that government is our benign benefactor. And that is all a good thing. In the meantime, you will have to continue to be vigilant in reading labels and keeping up with the science in order to reign well. Better yet, get involved and educate others about the dangers of our food supply.