Secret cabal of Bisphenol-A companies meets to sell the public endocrine disruptors

Jimmy sez, "Someone leaked the minutes for a meeting of food-packaging executives and chemical industry lobbyists seeking to find ways to keep consumers buying goods laced with bisphenol-A. Attending companies included Coca-Cola, Del Monte, Alcoa and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)."
Attendees suggested using fear tactics (e.g. "Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?") as well as giving control back to consumers (e.g. you have a choice between the more expensive product that is frozen or fresh or foods packaged in cans) as ways to dissuade people from choosing BPA-free packaging. Attendees noted, in the past, the different associations have had a reactive strategy with the media, with very limited proactive outreach in reaching out to journalists. The committee agrees they need to promote new, relevant content to get the BPA perspective into the media mix. The committee believes industry studies are tainted from the public perspective.

The committee doubts social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter, will work for positive BPA outreach. The committee wants to focus on quality instead of quantity in disseminating messages (e.g. a young kid or pregnant mother providing a positive quote about BPA, a testimonial from an outside expert, providing positive video, advice from third party experts, and relevant messaging on the GMA website). Members noted traditional media outreach has become too expensive (they have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars) and the media is starting to ignore their side. The committee doubts obtaining a scientific spokesperson is attainable. Their "holy grail" spokesperson would be a "pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA."

I don't know if these are real or not, though I am inclined to trust ScienceBlogs as a source overall, there's precious little provenance here (on the other hand, the industry association has confirmed that a document like this leaked).

BPA gets attention from industry spinmeisters (leaked minutes)


  1. “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?”

    They must be fixing to manipulate the lowest common denominator if they’re targeting people who haven’t figured out how to mash vegetables yet.

  2. “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.”

    The benefits of it?! Really? This is a little overreaching, no? The adverse health effects have been pretty conclusively demonstrated, yes? Nobody in their right mind would suggest that there are benefits to this!-

    This could be a symptom of 2 things:

    1) The extreme disconnect between marketing/management and actual consumers.

    2) The disastrously poor research/critical thinking skills of today’s consumers.

    I guess only time will tell.

  3. Is this the same stuff that had everyone freaking out over Nalgene bottles a few years back? If I remember correctly (and it’s very possible I don’t; I’m no chemist), it turned out that it’s really nothing to worry about (unless you’re cleaning out the bottles with strong bleach or cooking in them or something).

    I perused the Wikipedia page on BPA, but I’m not sure I’ve connected the dots properly. The entry says, “Infants fed with liquid formula are among the most exposed, and those fed formula from polycarbonate bottles can consume up to 13 micrograms of bisphenol A per kg of body weight per day (μg/kg/day).”

    That sounds kind of scary (infants have fewer pounds in ’em, so it makes sense that they get more exposure when you’re measuring on a pound-for-pound basis), but, contrariwise, the EPA tells us that we’re safe with exposure up to 50 μg/kg/day. (Obviously, I’m making the wild assumption that the EPA is worth heeding on this, but in the absence of other evidence, I don’t yet see any reason to reject those numbers.)

    Going by the information at hand, it seems like this might all be much ado about nothing.

    (I’ve no intention to shill for the packaging companies, but again, I’m also no expert, so please feel free to point out what I might be missing.)

  4. Could this be the largest class action lawsuit of all time? This is why we need the corporate death penalty.

  5. The key is when the feeding bottles are scratched or damaged. That’s when the nasties get out.

    Having said which, just breastfeed. I’ve got 2 kids who’ve been on the booby. The only bottle activity is once a day at bedtime.

    #2 is on the ball – access to babyfood is … uh … easy if you’re willing to get off your ass and make some. It takes a few minutes. One line of reasoning here seems to be predicated on the basis that people are only eating packaged processed foods. That’s probably true for a lot of people, who haven’t read a single word for the last 40 years. For them, the salt, sugar, fat and useless nutritional content of their food intake is far more dangerous than bpa.

    I completely but into the idea this stuff is bad circuits. Other stuff is too – I mean, forgive me, I don’t remember anyone having boobs before they were 12 when I was young. And now they do.

    I’m no back to the woods vegan (although Kevin McCloud’s favourite house – the Woodsman’s house in Sussex, England – would suit me very well indeed), but I stick around with minimally processed food. I cook.

    The nasty side of me sees Darwinism 2.0 at work here. Hand Aldous Huxley’s descendants medals – people are willingly arranging themselves into stratified cohorts, and the sillier ones are making themselves sicker and dumber than even nature could manage.

    So it’s not a f**k the industry kind of moment for me – it’s simply – so what? I’m not in this game.

    Patrick Holford’s guide to better eating – The Optimum Nutrition book – is pretty useful and comprehensive on all matters food-related. That’s my wee bible.

    Good luck all – and fie on you if you feed your babies salty preserved food from a supermarket shelf. Unless you have some overriding reason for being unable to prepare food. Go Annabel Karmel!

  6. btw gutted that Susan Boyle lost. And Diversity need to hire the other dance group’s choreographer.

  7. >Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?

    From you jackasses?? Never. We make our own baby food in this house TYVM.

  8. @walterbillington:
    As I’ve understood it, the decreasing average age for onset of puberty is caused mainly by changes in nutrition: Puberty is held back by a lack of nutrients, and can start earlier if the girl eats a surplus of calories.

  9. Djn, thanks, can’t recall where but I’ve read of linkages between hormonally-active chemicals present in modern food supply and early-onset puberty. Actually, 2 min research:

    Check Wikipedia “Puberty” –

    First, they talk about nutrition – you’re wiki-right. Then, they talk about environmental agents:

    “Significant exposure of a child to hormones or other substances that activate estrogen or androgen receptors could produce some or all of the changes of puberty.”

    Then PCBs and BPAs (uhoh), for brevitym just BPAs:

    “BPA mimics and interferes with the action of estrogen-an important reproduction and development regulator. It leaches out of plastic into liquids and foods, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found measurable amounts of BPA in the bodies of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population studied. The highest estimated daily intakes of BPA occur in infants and children. Many plastic baby bottles contain BPA, and BPA is more likely to leach out of plastic when its temperature is increased, as when one warms a baby bottle or warms up food in the microwave.”

    I think I’ve just changed my habits. Cold milk tonight!

  10. I think Kor bottles are BPA free. And that swiss brand, Sigg, don’t appear to be plastic. I seem to be name-dropping today. Never mind, someone has to.

  11. Just like trans-fat: another slow poison, adapted by industry to save them costs.
    The chemistry got ahead of their knowledge as to long-term biochemical effects.
    Like cigarettes: only that such “new knowledge” is less “stifle-able”: while only tobacco cos. used to research tobacco’s effects (and stifled their results), now many other than just the foodcos. research these plastics and food “preservatives” (= trans-fats).
    Like trans-fats, tough to link its use to any given individuals’ health problems.
    Like trans-fats, no doubt that enough will harm (= modify) any body.
    Science is catching up with some businesses – and they’ve decided to “fight the science”. A “rear-guard” action to be sure, sure to eventually be defeated – usually undertaken by business just to prevent possible lawsuits, while getting better practices into place: like the attempt to ban any “health-related” lawsuits against fast-food restaurants (which “law” IMHO was actually taking dead-aim at the threat of liability for the long-time use of trans-fats by those restaurants).
    Weighing their big business costs against little people’s lives – if the auto industry may acceptably do it, every industry may!

  12. #6 Tweeker:

    13ug/Kg/day can be in fact be quite significant when dealing with a hormonal agent.

    I expect that’s true, but I’m not so much asking about hormonal agents in general; I’m looking for specific data on BPA. As of yet, I haven’t found any evidence that 13 μg/kg/day of BPA is at all significant.

    You’ve heard the phrase “the dose makes the poison”? I don’t need evidence that BPA can be harmful; I’m just looking for data about the harmfulness at the levels we’re actually being exposed to. After all, “measurable” != “significant”, so I reckon I’d feel better about jumping on the “evil baby formula conspiracy” bandwagon if I can manage to connect those last few dots.

  13. Whenever leak like this happen it’s always conspicuous that the one avenue they don’t consider is “What if we’re wrong and the scientists and consumers are right?”

    Lying about the problem for a while is cheaper, so they only discuss which lies to use. The truth is not economically viable at the moment. Later, when the public is in an uproar, then they will follow the smaller companies who’ve been honestly solving the problem for years.

  14. I agree with Jake Boone. Can someone link to evidence that typical intake does significant harm? That’s really all that matters, here, and its presence makes all the difference between casting this “cabal” as tobacco industry-style borderline criminal coverup vs. education about an unfortunate fad among overprotective parents who don’t understand science, or anything in between.

  15. [QUOTE]Their “holy grail” spokesperson would be a “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.”[/QUOTE]

    Actually, I’d think a pregnant 35 year old with a Ph.D. would be far more persuasive. The older first-time mothers I know are a lot less easily swayed by marketing and far more likely to do all the research, especially if they’re science types.

  16. @3, Nosehat

    I imagine the benefits they’re referring to in the article aren’t health benefits, but “this food can sit on the shelf indefinitely because it’s in a can” benefits.

    Whether or not that’s an actual benefit is another question.

  17. it’s not just BPA…it’s hormones in meat, hormones in milk…it just goes on and on. When do we realize that Mother Nature makes food that we’re supposed to eat…and we won’t make it better if we fuck with it.

    (in the full-disclosure category, by the way, there is also a small sector of people who believe that the consumption of phytoestrogens — like those found in soy — can also precipitate early puberty.)

    More research, please…not enough good, reliable information based upon sound science yet. (more than enough wild-eyed panting of popular bullshit, ta.)

  18. #16, doesn’t the suggestion that there might be an issue warrant heightened awareness and tension?

    We all know that the food supply is something that needs careful surveillance, before we all get e-coli / salmonella etc

    As a non-scientific, but educated observer, I watched the kids in the US go from skinny and fast to fat and slow, during the period ’79 – ’95. Simultaneous early onset of secondary sexual characteristics, and worse, behaviours (mimicking the awful shows they see – someone please pull the plug on the Disney channel).

    I know child-specialist surgeons who rant about packaging, and plastics, and have done so for 15 years.

    It’s not over-protection, it’s more like “again?! damnit”. And this, I’ve seen it with my eyes, seen it in my family, seen it in their friends.

    Almost every corporation HAS to lie at some point because of the profit imperative. The employees of a firm serve (mostly) their shareholders or investors, who will dictate their future. Few are actually serving the customer in that sense.

    So we have to keep a steady eye on them.

  19. @Felix Mitchel:
    I bet that there truly is no discussion of the, “what if the scientists are right” angle. This sounded like a high level meeting so all of the people involved are being paid large sums of money if and only if they are right and the scientists are wrong. It’s very hard to convince people that what they are doing is wrong if they are paid a lot to do it.

    There’s also group think. No one wants to be the odd man out in a meeting like that so there is a disincentive to voice contradictory concerns. Plus, the argument that scientists are right is so self evident that each participant feels safe in assuming that someone else will bring it up. When no one does, everyone feels relieved for not having brought up a line of reasoning that must have been flawed.

  20. Jake Boone. The burden of proof is on you and industry to prove it’s safe, not the other way around. Overwhelm us with very fucking good evidence that it’s safe. Can’t do that, then it isn’t until something changes.

  21. Heightened awareness is one thing, if there’s evidence of harm and the jury is still out. And certainly all the more so if it’s been definitively shown. However, if studies have been done and there’s no evidence of isignificant harm in realistic doses,* then I refuse to worry about it. I’m not saying that’s the case – I’m totally ignorant about it, which is why I asked for a link.

    *”The dose makes the poison” should be a mantra in these things. Pretty much everything does some harm in some way, and, living in an entropic universe, it’s impossible to completely isolate yourself from every last molecule of anything, and trying to do so comes with its own cost. So “you were exposed to X amount of Y” gives me zero helpful information without knowing what effect various levels of Y actually have, what I would have to do to increase or decrease exposure, etc.

  22. @11:

    This is not scientific at all… Completely anecdotal… But all the girls I know who are athletic and generally active aren’t hitting puberty at 12…. It’s taking them till 16 or later.

    Puberty might be getting earlier in girls just ’cause we’re sitting on our collective asses a whole lot more these days.

  23. I did some searching, and it looks like there’s a lot of contradictory evidence out there. Or rather, there are legitimate reasons to ask questions, although there doesn’t appear to be any consensus on the answers. If safe dosages have been established with any degree of certainty, I can’t find it, and that’s really all I care about. (Thoroughly sifting through all the corporate propaganda, shrill tinfoil hatters, naturalism-fallacy hippies, yuppy parenting blogs, etc. is too tedious a task for me.) For the time being I’d guess I’d minimize exposure to young children, but not freak out about it.

  24. Takuan – cheers, good stuff.

    Ivan256, are your athletic and generally active girls chinese gymnasts by any chance? Laughing aside, 16 is quite late for girls to hit puberty. Agreed that sitting on asses is not useful.

  25. Thanks for those links Takuan.

    This is something that has been talked about for the last 10 years or so that I have been aware of. I have read numerous articles over on about it.

    Initially I was told that it would take industrial strength cleaners, but I’ve learned more since then. Water bottle scratched or damaged? Clean it on hot in the dishwasher? You’re putting yourself at risk as the heat and compromised integrity of the bottle are when BPA leaches out at much higher rates.

    The other point I base my opinion on is the actions of Nalgene and other water bottle manufacturers. They have switched their product lines to be BPA free. Is that a reaction to overly sensitive customers or their acknowledgement that the product wasn’t safe? Not sure, but my distrust of chemical companies and knowledge of the EPA and FDA’s poor performance in the past leads me to err on the side of caution.

    It’s getting easier to use non-BPA products like Kleen Kanteens, Sigg bottles, and BPA-free Nalgene type bottles. However, I’m not always sure with prepackaged food.

  26. “The committee doubts obtaining a scientific spokesperson is attainable.”

    gee, i wonder why that would be?

  27. Wanting better information is reasonable.

    Journal of the American Medical Association

    “For example, when adult rats were fed a 0.2-µg/kg per day dose of BPA for 1 month (a dose 250 times lower than the current ADI), BPA significantly decreased the activities of antioxidant enzymes and increased lipid peroxidation, thereby increasing oxidative stress.7 When adult mice were administered a 10-µg/kg dose of BPA once a day for 2 days (a dose 5 times lower than the ADI), BPA stimulated pancreatic β cells to release insulin.”

    Environmental Health Perspectives (NIH)

    (this is a highly technical publication)

    From the Conclusions…

    At the same time, it is necessary to clarify the physiologic roles of ERR-γ and to examine the degree and ways in which BPA may influence these. This is particularly important because ERR-γ is expressed in a tissue-restricted manner—for example, it is expressed very strongly in the mammalian fetal brain and placenta—at sites that could have important outcomes for newborns. Recently, many lines of evidence have indicated that low doses of BPA affects the central nervous system (reviewed by vom Saal and Welshons 2005; Welshons et al. 2003, 2006). The molecular mechanism for these effects could involve, at least in part, the high affinity binding of BPA to ERR-γ . A similar phenomenon may be observed for other NRs, and the exploration of such chemical–receptor interactions requires a specific assay system or concept applicable to all the NRs.

    There you go.

  28. Body fat in women acts as a big ol’ estrogen sponge – it stores it up as estrogen peaks and releases it in a more steady, constant way. Lack of body fat (as in extreme athletes, starved fashion models, and anorexic women) reduces fertility, causes irregular menstrual cycles, and can lead to total cessation of menstrual cycles.

    Conversely, being chubby when you go into menopause can help smooth out and mitigate some of the unpleasant effects.

    Excess estrogen is pee’d right out of the body – so having lots of body fat to store extra estrogen in instead of peeing it out when you go through puberty (time of epic hormonal spikes) will result in the girl being exposed to more estrogen over time. No surprises there that this would cause early puberty.

    16 yrs old for visible puberty isn’t excessively late. 16 is within normal variation (at the high end, obviously, but that doesn’t make it abnormal). Also, breasts and hips might come in later, but I’m betting most of those girls already started their growth spurt by the time they were 14-15.

    Puberty has a “normal” order of signs, but they don’t HAVE to come in the normal order for it to be a perfectly normal puberty.

  29. @23 Chris S – I haven’t seen the second article before. The rat studies I’ve read are concerning.

    I think something is being missed here.

    Alternatives are either already available, or could be developed.

    It’s a cost/convenience issue to companies, and BPA has been used for years to produce polycarbonate plastic, working it’s way into the current manufacturing chain. The resistance I see is mainly companies who don’t wish to make changes to production (bottom line issue), or people who aren’t concerned (though personally, I’m surprised by this one).

    From what I’ve read, there’s enough research to be concerned. BPA in larger doses appears to be a confirmed problem, it’s just a question of being sure about smaller doses.

    So if changes can be made to avoid using BPA and its not impossibly costly to change, why not? What’s the reason for continuing to use a potentially very unhealthy chemical?

  30. There was a really good discussion on the Diane Rehm show back in April of 2008.

    Basically, the industry backed doctor said that it was well with in FDA guidelines. The opposition said that they were seeing BPA stimulate changes at levels of 2 micrograms of bisphenol A per kg of body weight per day when infants were being exposed in the teens. It was enough for him to stop eating any canned food or beverages and recommend others do the same.

    Really, it boils down to the same as most arguments. From the scientific studies, it seems that BPA is causing some form of damage and you can either hope it really isn’t that much or make small life changes to avoid them.

  31. Then again, who says the baby bottle companies aren’t the ones stirring up the controversy?

  32. You know all those weird inexplicable syndromes that soldiers come back from the Middle East with? The ones previous generations of desert warriors didn’t get? Hmmm… all those soldiers drinking for months or years from big ol’ plastic water buffalos that frequently get left out in the sun. Think there might be a connection?

    Don’t drink from plastic or stainless steel. You don’t need to, so don’t.

    Drink from a glass. And don’t even start whining about the fragility of glass, nobody gets through life without learning to deal with broken glass so you may as well start learning now.

    Brass and bronze are also OK, as long as they are shiny or deep brown colored… don’t use green or blue oxidised vessels.

    Stainless is bacteria’s favoritest place to grow EVAR… you don’t want to know what I’ve cleaned out of those plastic-topped stainless bottles kids are coming to school with… black wavy fronds of stuff growing in supposedly chlorinated city water.

  33. I take all EPA & FDA guidelines for safe exposure with a salt lick. Testing for effects of chemical exposure such as BPA are done in isolation. The problem becomes when you have multiple chemicals with similar mechanisms of action. This is especially true with pesticides. Sure, you may be safe with x amount of chemical A, but when you add in y amount of chemical B, z amount of chemical C, etc., you may end up with the equivalent of much higher dosage levels of any of them.
    As a bare-bones example, you’re not likely to die from drinking a 12 pack of beer. Nor are you likely to die from taking 6 or 8 percocet. But add the two together, you could be looking at a quick trip to the hospital.

  34. This is a sad and depressing story, on a number of levels… But I think this reminds us that we should never expect corporations with a focus on the bottom line to make the morally correct decision without intense pressure on that bottom line.

    I do have to say to WalterB at #7, you said:

    “Having said which, just breastfeed.”

    That isn’t always a viable option. While it is better, more natural, etc, it just isn’t always an option. I think the proponents of breast over bottle need to accept that reality.

    And you said:

    “but I stick around with minimally processed food. I cook.”

    I mostly agree here again. But, I also have to point to a particular Cat and Girl cartoon, found here, which makes a very salient point:

    I think there is a good deal of truth to that… often our ability to choose healthy stuff (organic, minimally processed, etc) has become more a function of class than anything else. The cheapest food has become the same as the lowest common denominator food, the most processed, the worst for us. The food at public schools often reflect this reality, too. Plus, working class families more often have two working parents or one, a mother and have far less time to cook healthy meals. Healty alternatives in that case are few. This is another reality that we need to recognize and adress. Not that you aren’t right, of course. I agree with you – we have the choices in front of us, and we can decide. But the choices become fewer the further down the economic chain one goes. Whole Foods is just not in the reach of many American families, especially now. Just a thought.

  35. Waterbillington #7 says:

    “so what? I’m not in this game”

    I say: oh yes you are. Bad chemical (& other) company byproducts (including pharmaceuticals) are in the air you breath, the water you drink, and yes, your breast milk.

    Don’t take my word for it; do the research.

  36. mindysan,

    The role of public policy in a representative republic is to fight the “inevitability” argument you are making.

    In a corporatist republic (pronounced fascist) it’s just the way you describe.

    Just a thought.

  37. Hi MDH- If I am making an inevitable argument, isn’t the support of polices that eliminate competition for agribusiness, making it a choice out of reach of many Americans a point well worth thinking about and even arguing for? Does class not figure into this at all? I’m not saying that choices are not within the hands of the working class – choices always exist, but they are far less than the choices available to those with means. I don’t think that is necessarily an argument about inevitability, but more about the reality of working class life in America.

    And I think an argument can be made that corporations have more of an impact on the decision making of public policy bodies than do the public being represented at this point. Do corporations, which serve the public in some capacity, providing a service or what have you, have no responsibility to the public good, only to stock holders? If the corporations role is only to serve their stock holders, should they be able to make decisions that adversely affect the public, if it fattens their bottom line? This is evidence (if this is true, the leaked documents, I mean) of a group of corporations colluding to lie about their products that has adversely affected or could adversely affect the public. Should the government just ignore the problem or step in and regulate on this issue in this case? I’m assuming you are arguing for the deregulation stance, but correct me if I am wrong. Do the corporations bear no responsibility for that? Is it fine because making money is what corporations do? Where do we draw the line between freedom for corporations to run their business as they see fit for making a profit vs. government regulation for the public welfare (not that they are all that good at that, but an argument can be made that this is often attributable to the interference in corporations in public policy making)? I’m not really trying to make an argument either way, really (meaning for government regulation over deregulation). I just want to know what you think the answer to this very real problem is?

  38. What is bisphenol-A, and why should I care? *Wikis* Oh.

    Cory should have included a sentence which described what bisphenol-A is, and why it could be dangerous. Cory, you get a D for making your readers, who are not aware of this substance, look it up.

  39. @WalterBillington

    “So it’s not a f**k the industry kind of moment for me – it’s simply – so what? I’m not in this game.”

    I know! Then again, we’ll all die from SARS2 (the son of SARS) or Swine Mexican flu sooner or later anyway.
    I’m openly suggesting that our food industry is at the very least partially to blame for the upcoming and spreading of these diseases.
    The worst part is that people like you and I, eagle-eying our foodstuffs, are going to get sick regardless.

    This makes me sad.

  40. I work at Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Canada, and we voluntarily stopped selling 90% of all products with BPA in them. The only hings left are things like Water-Filter pumps, were the danger of not having clean water far out weighs the potential danger of BPA.

    One of the studies we read about disused the fact that BPA was MUCH more likely to leach out of a bottle that was exposed to UV light, so don’t go leaving your Child’s bottles in the sun.

    Be careful if you switch to stainless steel bottles for hiking and camping, as some brands have clear plastic coating on the inside that contains…BPA! I think the SIGG ones are OK though.

    The only way to truly be safe is to switch to Cast-Iron :)

  41. mindysan, the answer is a gov’t than answers to the people, not one that answers to the companies that employ the people.

    In short, limit the free speech of corporate entities, both literally (as we do with alcohol or cigarette companies), and financially (by removing the right of companies to donate to political campaigns).

    That is my answer.

    Your answer sounds like you can’t see clear of the current system we’re mired in, and so poor people must inevitably eat crappy food – which is just NOT the case worldwide. Ask an Okinawan.

  42. Not everyone has the time to make their own baby food and breastfeed. A lot of families have both members working, sometimes multiple jobs, and the baby is put into care right off the bat. The upper-middle and upper classes can make sure their kids eat healthy. So can women who are fortunate enough to be housewives. But everyone else is being forced to use the quick and easy solution.

  43. Actually, MDH, I think we are on the same page here. I agree that the gov should be accountable to the people, and right now it’s not. Agreed? I’m not saying that the working class should eat crappy food or that they inevitable will, I’m saying here is what I think is happening. I also think that there is a far amount of FUD circulated by the corporations on these issues that affect their bottom line, and this affects governments response and peoples pressure on the government, too. If we are working from an incomplete set of facts, then we are not going to make the best choices, I think. Furthermore, I do think that large corporations have far more access to our lawmakers then we do, don’t you agree? If I were a bigwig CEO, I would most certainly be able to speak with any lawmaker at anytime on anything, including the president and probably everyone on the supreme court and all federal courts to boot, but you, as an “ordinary” citizen, have much less access, even with the new initiatives that the Obama admin has instated regarding social networking. Granted, we have much more access to our local and state officials and some decent access to our senators and representatives, but if this issue is not in your guys purview (he’s not on that committee), you might be out of luck. A guy who doesn’t directly represent you will be less likely to take your grievences seriously.

    And yeah, I agree, I do feel utterly mired in the current system we’re in. I’ll totally cop to that. Perhaps I’ve read too much Foucault. The reality of the world often makes me feel utterly paralyzed. I feel for more confident in looking at processes and pontificating on what they mean, as opposed to offering practical solutions (hence, I’m a historian, not a political scientist). Frankly, I’d make a poor Marxist, as I often can’t combine action with my rhetoric. What amount of blame should be placed on my shoulders for lack of action? Again, I don’t know…

    As for Okinawans, they are sadly going the way of the rest of the world, or at least that’s what I remember hearing/reading recently – more agricrap and fast food is becoming prevalent in Okinawa…

    Over all, on these sorts of issues, Mike Davis is quite good. Go read Late Victorian Holocaust about how communities who were once insulated from disasters had no protection once they were forced into the market by the imperial countries. Alternatives were destroyed, and people were made vulnerable, all for the bottom line. I think we have to deal with the fact that corporations are still very closely tied to the workings of government. It’s not a one to one comparison, but it has some important parallels, I think.

  44. “Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?”

    You mean like a lactation room with workplace childcare facilities? Or a glass bottle with natural rubber nipple/cap?

    Why are so many middle-*men* involved between a person and their natural environment?

  45. @39– all except the fact that glass is heavy and highly impractical in many applications…we have the ability to make non-BPA plastics. Just gotta use them.

  46. “What’s the reason for continuing to use a potentially very unhealthy chemical?”

    The chemical company who sells it wants them to keep buying it. Its really a matter of tooling for the chemical company.

    The companies listed here:

    GE, SUNOCO, Dow, Bayer; these are huge players in a huge industry. This single chemical creates hundreds of millions in revenue for each yearly.

  47. Hmmph.. I remember when BB was full of excellent threads where people actually discussed stuff and provided useful links and well thought out comments instead of personal anecdotes and blog post links.

    @ Chris S, Jake Boone & Moriarty: glad there are at least a few civil commenters left. Sorry if I missed anyone else who’s playing nice but really the level of discourse has gone downhill quite badly. It’s pretty sad.

    Oh well.

  48. Early puberty isn’t a modern phenomenon. When Shakespeare’s Juliet–not yet fourteen–declines to marry Paris, her father is told that “Younger than she are happy mothers made”, which means that in Shakespeare’s time, it was not unheard of for twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls to get pregnant. (Juliet’s own mother did: “By my count, I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid.”)

    This is not to say that modern life hasn’t made early puberty more common than it once was. But we didn’t create it.

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