By Julian Pecquet - 03/30/12 08:49 PM EDT
A leading Democratic critic of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) blasted the Obama administration's rejection Friday of a petition to ban its use in food and beverage packaging because of growing concerns that the omnipresent chemical could be linked to cancer and other diseases.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Commitee with jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration, has introduced legislation to ban BPA from being used in food and beverage containers in addition to filing three petitions with the agency. The petitions request the FDA to remove regulatory approval for the use of BPA in infant formula and baby and toddler food packaging; small reusable household food and beverage containers; and canned food packaging.
The agency had until Saturday to make a decision under the terms of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The FDA said Friday it was not making a final determination on BPA's safety, but would continue to examine the medical research on the issue.
"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects," the FDA said, "there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans."
The decision drew immediate fire from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"The agency has failed to protect our health and safety — in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children," senior scientist Sarah Janssen said in a statement. "The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research. This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals."
This post was updated at 6 p.m. with comment from Rep. Markey