Lobbyists prevent bisphenol-A ban

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Corporations as consumer advocates? The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not lower the bisphenol-A limit. This is due to the strong influence of economic lobbyists on the actually independent consumer agency.

(11/18/2010) According to research by the MDR, the European Food Safety Office EFSA is under the strong influence of lobbyists from global corporations. At the ESFA, the lobbyists deployed by the corporations come and go or even occupy important management positions. Apparently, the dangerous chemical substance "bisphenol-A" was re-approved in an approval process due to pressure from the economy.

Bisphenol-A in short form BPA is suspected of being hormone-effective in the human organism. Several studies have already shown that BPA can have a negative impact on the genome. The chemical bisphenol-A is found in many everyday objects. So BPA is mainly used for the production of baby bottles, pacifiers, food packaging, thermal paper, plastic bottles and many other items. Scientists and environmental groups have repeatedly warned against the use of the harmful chemical. In numerous countries such as France, Canada or Denmark, the substance has been banned at least for children's products. There is no such restriction in Germany and other European countries. Despite the negative health effects, the Food Safety Authority EFSA did not lower the BPA limit on 30 September. On the contrary, the chemical substance can still be used in high concentrations in everyday products.

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Why are health risks disregarded? Here, of course, the question arises as to why the EU limit value will not be lowered despite all warnings from doctors, scientists and environmental authorities. This is despite the fact that even the German Federal Environment Agency is now warning of the use of the chemical raw material.

The public TV broadcaster MDR has made an astonishing discovery in this regard. When looking at the personal details within the European Food Safety Office, it was noticed that the Hungarian Diana Banati was President of the EFSA Board of Directors. At the same time, Banati was on the supervisory board for a long time in the lobbyist association "International Life Sciences Institute ILSI". ILSI pretends to be a non-profit association in public. But the institute is primarily financed by global groups such as Coca-Cola, Danone, Bayer and Nestlé. In addition to these groups, ILSI is also financed by the largest bisphenol-A producers. The WHO keeps this association on a so-called "black list" because the institute primarily lobbies for the interests of large corporations.

For a long time, Ms. Banati was in the top position of a lobbyist association and at the same time president of the EFSA Board of Directors. After a few public statements and protests, Ms. Banati initially admitted that she was providing "scientific advice" for ILSI. The EFSA President later admitted that she also held a top position in ILSI. In order to no longer maintain this apparent conflict of interest, Banati relinquished the position in the EU. EU Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou is currently responsible for European food safety. But this two-track game is not an isolated case. According to research by the MDR reporters, Ms. Banati is not the only person who “dances at two weddings”. According to MDR research, her EFSA board colleague Milan Kovac is still on the European ILSI supervisory board. At least three other important EFSA employees were or are working as lobbyists at the same time, as reported by the MDR.

Environmental agency and environmental protection organizations criticize lobbyists' influence After this extensive knowledge, the influence of corporations is heavily criticized. Director of the Department of Environmental Hygiene, Andreas Gies, told the MDR, "EFSA's independence is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently." The Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) also criticized these inconceivable processes. According to environmentalists, the European authority is no longer independent, but interspersed with people who act in the interests of the economy.

Non-scientific study as "proof" of the "harmlessness" of BPA These are all facts that prove that the European authorities obviously do not work very independently. Even more astonishing is the reason why the limit value of bisphenol-A was not lowered. A study was commissioned especially for this. This study was by no means carried out by an independent institute, but was commissioned by the industry. Even the researchers were paid for by the industry. Experimental animals that react less strongly to hormones were used for the study. In addition, the study was conducted without a control group, although such an approach is considered the standard among scientists. For this reason, scientist and toxicologist Gilbert Schönfelder from Charité Berlin disagrees with the questionable study results: Experimental studies have shown that bisphenol A can disrupt male and female reproduction. And, for example, it influences the growth of the uterus, the size of the prostate, the size of the mammary gland and, very clearly, the genome. "

The federal government sees no reason to act quickly
In Germany there seems to be no major objection to the EU regulation. Finally, the questionable results are accepted to the detriment of consumers. The results should only be checked again in spring. Until then, the industry has enough time to come up with further strategies. (sb)

Also read:
Bisphenol-A leads to infertility in women
Study: Girls getting sexually mature earlier
Hormone-active chemicals threaten health
Federal Environment Agency warns of chemical bisphenol A
Dangerous substances in soft drinks

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