BPA conference seeks scientific consensus
A closed doors meeting of international scientists is trying this week to thrash out a global consensus on the risks posed to consumers by the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).
By Emma Jackson and Keith Nuthall in Ottawa
Posted 2 November 2010
Participant experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have been told to sign confidentiality agreements, preventing them from disclosing information from the discussions until the organisers have published all material from the meeting. It has also been closed to the media.
A summary of the meeting will be released later, WHO and FAO officials promised PRW journalists attending the meeting.
Its goals are ambitious – a background briefing note said: “The intention of this meeting will be to analyse the available scientific data in this area with a view of providing an updated description of potential human health risks related to BPA exposure.”
It is “expected to provide a description and analysis” of the current state of knowledge on toxicology and exposure; risk assessment, including attendant uncertainties; and knowledge gaps. There will also be conclusions and recommendations in how to proceed.
Although this meeting is not a formal part of Codex Alimentarius proceedings, which would yield guidelines with legal weight, a WHO statement calling for participants said the meeting’s scope will review a wide variety of scientific research on BPA’s health impacts, about which there has been much disagreement.
This includes “exposure to BPA from different sources, including specifically exposure through food as a result of migration from food contact material; toxicity of BPA based on animal studies, including OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development] guideline studies as well as research studies with other study designs; review of epidemiological studies; and human health risk assessment.”
The question of whether BPA is harmful to humans, particularly when ingested through food packaging such as plastic bottles and the linings of tinned food cans, has been an incredibly divisive issue. While meeting host Canada recently banned the additive outright, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) went the other direction and declared it safe for food contact, only to have this assessment partly refuted by the European Commission.
The conference is also backed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada (Canada’s health ministry), and EFSA.
[ Back ]