19 August 2008 23:09 [Source: ICIS news]
By Ben Lefebvre
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--A failed California State Assembly bill that would have banned the sale of infant care products containing bisphenol A (BPA) could return to the floor again this month, sources said on Tuesday.
State Assembly members voted 31-27 against the ban on Monday, with an unusually high 22 abstentions. The bill, which passed the state senate in May, was granted reconsideration, however, opening the door for a revote.
Tracy Fairchild, director of communications for bill sponsor State Senator Carole Midgen (Democrat-San Francisco), said the bill would be brought up for another vote before 31 August, as proponents of the ban try to gather support from lawmakers she said were swayed by a massive advertising blitz paid for by the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
“They got hit over the head by the ACC. They’ve been inundated with lobbyists who’ve created an atmosphere of confusion,” Fairchild said.
ACC spokeswoman Tiffany Harrington said she was unable to estimate how much money the group spent on the full-page newspaper ads, radio spots, direct mailing and automated phone calls it used to fight the measure. Fairchild estimated an ad buy of that size would cost about $1m (€680,000).
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Steven Hentges of the ACC’s plastics division defended the group’s actions, saying BPA has not been proven dangerous for humans.
Governments, consumers, researchers and the chemical industry have been locked in a debate over the health affects of BPA, a plasticizer found in the nearly ubiquitous material polycarbonate (PC).
National and state governments have threatened to ban the sale of PC infant-food containers while some retailers have removed them from their shelves.
Regulators, most recently the US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), have said current studies have shown BPA poses no health risks at levels most people encounter it, but have also urged new studies.
Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (Democrat-Vacaville), who voted for the ban, called “misleading” the ads the ACC funded. She pointed to a flier that featured an empty shopping bag and the statement “your favorite products may soon disappear”.
“These mailers are grossly misleading and fail to even mention the most basic facts about this legislation – that it applies only to food and beverage containers designed for consumption by infants,” Wolk said in a statement before the vote.
Harrington said the ads were appropriate, saying the bill was “vague” as to what products it would ban.
($1 = €0.68)
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