Were we surprised or even disappointed that the California EPA just ruled that the plastic hardener bisphenol-A (BPA) would be subject to warning labels according to their Prop 65 law, or that the Natural Resources Defense Council would be jumping with joy over it?
Not really — given the chemophobia of both of those groups, the surprise is that it took Cal-EPA this long; and that the NRDC is so happy about it is as surprising as the sun rising in the east.
“Prop 65” as it’s widely known, was passed by plebiscite in 1986. Who in California could resist the easy choice: Do you want anything with a possible “carcinogen or reproductive toxin” so labelled? Of course, said about 80 percent of voters. But those in the anti-chemical lobby (including NRDC) who promoted this ridiculous piece of legislation didn’t care about its ramifications for California’s businesses and consumers: rather, as per their radical enviro’s typical methods, their only concern was advancing their “all-natural” agenda. The fact that the criteria for being called a toxin included high-dose rodent tests that have nothing to do with human risk was not given any consideration.
So in a couple of months, after the statutory public comment period, BPA will be among the many, many substances listed via Prop 65. This, despite the assessments of scientific authorities worldwide, over and over again (including our FDA one year ago) that BPA in consumer products — and there are many — is not hazardous to health.
Who will benefit? The answer, as in so many similar areas of chemical dispute: lawyers. While of zero benefit to public health, and a clear drag on the economy, a cottage industry of bounty-hunter lawyers has sprung up in the Golden State. These folks have exploited Prop 65 by suing companies (even small businesses) who make or sell products that have a listed chemical but no label, and lining their pockets with the extorted penalties.
Congratulations, then, NRDC and your acolytes! Soon many more products will be labelled with a Prop 65 warning, and life will go on as before — except some lawyers will get richer, and undoubtedly donations to your group will increase by a similar amount. Be proud.