Bisphenol A ban tabled in French parliament

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bpa, Bisphenol a, European parliament

France could become the first European country to ban bisphenol A (BPA) in food containers if a bill tabled by group of senators passes into law.

The proposal put forward by nine lawmakers from the upper house of the French legislature calls for the substance to be outlawed for use in food contact materials, and particularly in baby bottles. The coalition of politicians said the publication of numerous studies raising health concerns about the chemical’s presence in polycarbonate containers had triggered their action.

French health fears

Certain studies have demonstrated the chemical acts as an endocrine disruptor and have even established links between BPA and prostate and breast cancer, obesity, diabetes and thyroid dysfunctions, as well as behavioural and reproductive problems”,​ said the bill proposal which was laid before the Senate on 27 July, 2009.

The group, which includes Senators Yvon Collin, Jean-Michel Baylat and Michel Charasse, added that BPA could adversely affect the development of the brain in a foetus and new-born babies. The bill also cited recent BPA bans in Canada, a number of US states, as well as by several major plastic manufacturers, in the document.

The French senators called for the banning of BPA as a precautionary measure – which would include outlawing the importation, availability, display, sale and distribution free of charge of plastic food vessels containing the chemical.

Growing concerns in Europe

The latest move in France could be part of a growing ground-swell of political and popular anxiety regarding the substance. Such concerns have been instrumental in the banning of BPA in Minnesota, Chicago and Connecticut in the United States. In June, the US Food and Drug Administration agreed to review its declaration that the substance was safe. In the same month, the French food safety body, AFFSA, was also instructed to re-examine its approval of BPA. In Denmark, the national parliament passed a resolution in May calling on the government to ban the use of BPA in infant bottles.

Last week, French non-governmental organisation (NGO) Antidote Europe sent an appeal to the newly-elected President of the European Parliament, Professor Jerzy Buzek, urging him to take action on BPA to “preserve public health”.​ The organisation said: “There is now mounting scientific evidence to suggest that the synthetic chemical bisphenol A represents a serious health risk, especially to human foetuses and bottle-fed babies”.

It added: “Antidote Europe bases its concerns specifically on human findings, including blood and urine samples, as well as effects seen in human cell cultures. This human data, which points to increased risk of cancer, diabetes, and fertility problems which threaten to annihilate our species, should guide the authorities towards making rational decisions and thereby avoid the confusion sown until now by the results of conflicting animal data.”

The NGO said that standard toxicological studies involving animal data and linear relationships were inappropriate when considering the effects of BPA in relation to the human foetus.

“It is unfortunate that some sectors of industry and even some sectors of the regulatory apparatus choose to put human health at risk, on the basis of irrelevant or selective data”, ​ it said.

Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) both told in June that they remained convinced that all available scientific evidence supported their stance that the chemical posed no health risk for use in food contact materials.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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