FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Children’s Health Bill Falls Victim to Oregon Politics
SB 695 to Ban Toxic BPA in Children’s Products Stalled in Partisan Squabble
Parents, health officials and environmental advocates today expressed great dismay that the Oregon House of Representatives failed to move SB 695 through the House committee process, stalling the bill which would ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups made with bisphenol A (BPA), ensure that WIC infant formula is BPA-free, and set in motion a process to create a voluntary certified BPA-Free label for canned food sold in Oregon.
Salem, OR—Parents, health officials and environmental advocates today expressed great dismay that the Oregon House of Representatives failed to move SB 695 through the House committee process, stalling the bill which would ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups made with bisphenol A (BPA), ensure that WIC infant formula is BPA-free, and set in motion a process to create a voluntary certified BPA-Free label for canned food sold in Oregon.
Governor Kitzhaber has expressed support for the bipartisan bill, and it passed the Oregon Senate in April with a 20-9 bipartisan vote. In spite of Republican co-sponsorship support from Rep. Greg Smith, partisan politics in the House prevented the bill from moving out of the Energy and Environment Committee process. The Committee let the deadline for a work session pass without taking action on the bill. Though SB 695 failed to move through the committee process, legislative leaders have broad power to intervene at the end of session. If the evenly divided House can overcome partisan politics, the bill may yet receive a vote on the House floor.
“Clearly, protecting babies and providing a BPA-free advantage for industry are not a priority,” says Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis, PhD, MPH, Environmental Health Program Director with Oregon Environmental Council. “With a disappointing lack of leadership and cooperation, Oregon’s elected representatives may fail to do what Washington, New York—and even China—have done to protect children.”
A growing list of scientific evidence links BPA, a hormone-mimicking chemical found to leach into food and drink from some plastics and the epoxy lining of cans, to a wide range of health effects including harm to the brain, reproductive, and immune systems. Infants and small children are at particular risk of harm from exposure.
Oregon’s BPA-free baby bill has strong support from doctors, nurses, labor unions, environmentalists and Oregon families. On Monday, May 23, parents delivered a petition with nearly 500 signatures from across the state urging lawmakers to move the bill forward. Nearly two thousand individuals follow a “BPA Free Oregon” Facebook page in support of the measure. A recent statewide poll revealed widespread bipartisan support throughout Oregon for taking regulatory steps to reduce BPA exposures.
“I am shocked and troubled that our lawmakers would put politics before children’s health,” says Jenny Pompilio, MD, MPH. “When another Oregon generation grows up with a burden of disease related to environmental exposures, we have only ourselves to blame.”
“I am an Oregon parent and an Oregon business person,” says Sattie Clark. “But when our leaders show such an abysmal failure to safeguard our children and our state’s values, I’m a bit ashamed of what it means to be from Oregon. Who do our elected representatives work for?”
Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed, with strong bipartisan support, bans on BPA in food and drink containers intended for children younger than three years of age. Bills are pending in a number of states, including California, where the Assembly passed a measure this week. Canada became the first country to ban BPA use in baby bottles in 2008. Denmark, France, Australia and China have taken measures to ban BPA.
"Once again, this is a loss in potential revenue for Oregon businesses,” says Senator Brian Boquist, bill co-sponsor. “A food container labeled 'BPA Free' can retail 40% higher than a non-labeled container. BPA Free food containers are in the future, it would be great for Oregon to be the leader in this movement and our Oregon businesses could benefit from this bill."
“We can’t let the Legislature fail to protect the health of Oregon families, especially young children,” says Andrea Durbin, Executive Director of Oregon Environmental Council. “If the Legislature fails to protect children for a second time, we will go to leaders in cities and counties to guarantee protection at the local level. Unfortunately, that approach will leave many Oregonians at risk.”
About the Oregon Environmental Council
The Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon—clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For more than 40 years we’ve been a champion for solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the place we call home. Find out more at www.oeconline.org.