To mark this week’s observance of the National Cancer Consciousness Week, children’s health and safety campaigners led by the EcoWaste Coalition today gathered outside the Department of Health (DOH) office in Sta. Cruz, Manila, to urge the government in banning the continued use of bisphenol A (BPA) in infant and other consumer products.
In a letter sent to DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, some 100 advocates for children’s health and chemical safety pressed the agency to fast track the issuance of an Administrative Order that will ban the use of BPA, an endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing chemical, in baby feeding bottles, sippy cups and other food and beverage containers for kids under the age of three.
To read the petition that was personally received by DOH Asst. Sec. Eric Tayag and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go, please go to:
BPA, a synthetic compound used in polycarbonate baby bottles and in epoxy resins for canned foods and beverages, has been linked to a long list of health problems, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, asthma, erectile dysfunction, infertility, obesity, type II diabetes, heart ailments and breast and prostate cancers, often at low levels of exposure.
“An immediate ban on BPA in baby bottles and other infants’ food and beverage containers, in line with the precautionary principle, will reduce fetal and childhood exposure to BPA in the food supply,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Banning it will also serve as a deterrent against the proliferation of imported BPA-containing feeding bottles in the local market,” she added.
Governments that have imposed restrictions on BPA, specifically by banning it in baby bottles, include Canada (in 2008), France (2010), the 27 member states of European Union (2011), China (2011), Malaysia (2012), South Africa (2012), USA (2012) and Taiwan (2013).
The EcoWaste Coalition also urged the government to consider a broader ban on BPA, citing the move taken by France to prohibit “the manufacture, import, export and commercialization of all forms of food packaging containing BPA” by 2015.
“While we recognize that the immediate priority should be to ensure that only BPA-free products are made available to children, we believe that the ban on BPA should also cover all food packaging materials on the premise that if babies during pregnancy are to be protected against BPA exposure, women of child-bearing age should not consume BPA-contaminated food and beverage as well,” Lucero explained.
For her part, Ines Fernandez of Arugaan-Save the Babies Coalition encouraged mothers “to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or more.”
“The toxic health threat from BPA-laced feeding bottles for artificial milk formula should embolden all mothers to feed and nourish their children with breastmilk, the most nutritious and ecological food for babies,” Fernandez added.
The groups reiterated their commitment to “defend the right of every baby to mother’s milk, the first complete and Zero Waste food, from the direct assault of deceptive advertising and promotion of artificial breastfeeding and chemical pollution.”
Joining the EcoWaste Coalition and Arugaan-Save the Babies Coalition in seeking DOH’s immediate policy action against BPA were the Philippine Pediatric Society, Ang NARS Partylist, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-NCR, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines,Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Health Futures Foundation and the Pimentel Center for Local Governance and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.
Also signing the petition were the Action for Nurturing Children and Environment; Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice-Pandacan, Manila; Alaga Lahat; Amavel Foundation-Davao City; Angkan ng Mandirigma; Ateneo School of Government; AYLNA Cebu; Ban Toxics; Batangas Dos Fishermen’s Association-Mariveles, Bataan; Buklod Kabataan-San Mateo, Rizal; Buklod Tao-San Mateo, Rizal; Cavite Green Coalition; Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning-Silang, Cavite; Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating for Philippine Environmental Sustainability; Columban Missionaries; Consumer Right to Safe Food; CRIV; DACS; Ecology Ministry-Diocese of Kalookan; Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu; Green Earth; Greenpeace Southeast Asia; Green Stage Filipinas-Maskara, Cavite; Health Care Without Harm; ; Interface Development Interventions-Davao City; IPEN; KKK Cebu; Kinaiyahan Foundation; Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lunsod-Cebu; Krusada sa Kalikasan-Nueva Ecija; Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation; Likhang Kalikasan; Lingkod Tao Kalikasan; LISU Cebu; Makabata Para sa Bayan; Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura-Cavite; Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying-Mindanao; Miriam P.E.A.C.E.; Mother Earth Foundation; NEWLAC-Cabanatuan City; November 17 Movement; Nurturers of the Earth; Obando Kami ay Para sa Iyo; Occupational Health Nurses Association of the Philippines, Inc.; Office of Coun. Nida Cabrera-Cebu City; Our Lady of Joy Learning Center-Cebu; Partnership for Clean Air; Philippine Earth Justice Center; Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement; SK Federation-Malabon City; Sagip Pasig Movement; Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.; Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative-Smokey Mountain, Tondo, Manila; Samahan Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa-Caloocan City; Sanlakas Sugbo-Cebu; Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kinabukasan, Inc.-Naic, Cavite; Sining Yapak and the Teachers Dignity Coalition-Cebu.