(NaturalNews) Charles Gelman, a retired manufacturer of syringes and medical filtration devices who considers Bisphenol A (BPA) to be "perfectly safe", gave $5 million to the research center headed by Martin Philbert, the chairman of a Food and Drug Administration panel about to rule on the chemical's safety. The donation is nearly 25 times larger than the $210,000 annual budget of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, where Philbert is founder and co-director. Philbert failed to disclose the donation to the FDA, and agency officials only learned of it through reporters.
Gelman, who was once called "the second worst polluter in Michigan" by the state's Department of Natural Resources said he considers the chemical, which is used to make baby bottles, reusable food containers and plastic wraps, to be safe. Worries about health risks posed by the chemical are exaggerated by "mothers' groups and others who don't know the science," Gelman said.
Apparently Gelman is ignorant of the fact that most studies on BPA have linked the chemical to cancer, heart disease, ADHD and reproductive failures in lab animals; those that didn't find harm overwhelmingly were paid for by the chemical industry.
More than 90 percent of people over the age of six test positive for BPA in the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The levels present in the average American are far greater than the levels present in the animals under study that have documented the damaging health effects of BPA. It should be noted that no level has ever been found in animal experiments that doesn't cause harm. Gelman said he had made his views on BPA clear to Philbert in several conversations. Philbert denied that.
"At no time have the Gelman family or any other interested/disinterested person, persons, corporations or other entity contacted me or attempted to influence my scientific judgment on the matter," Philbert wrote in an e-mail.
Philbert's committee is expected to release its opinion this month. It will advise the FDA on a draft assessment released by the agency in September. It should come as no surprise that the draft found that products made with BPA are safe for food storage.
The decision of Philbert's committee is expected to have huge implications on the regulation and sale of the chemical in items such as baby bottles, reusable food containers and plastic wraps.
Gelman said he and Philbert talk often. He said Philbert eventually told him that he did not want to have any more discussions on the subject of BPA because he was concerned about the appearance of impropriety. But, Gelman said, "He knows where I stand."
Philbert steadfastly denied any conflict of interest, stating "until today, no question has been raised with respect to my impartiality in this matter," he wrote in an e-mail. "I am not open to any undue influence and have taken on this (unwelcome) task with all due diligence and seriousness."
If a $5 million donation from an individual with a strong, vested interest in the outcome of the study is not considered a blatant impropriety, one has to ask the question, what is?
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