The 1967 movie, The Graduate, is on just about every movie critic's top 100 and was one of several "coming of age" movies that defined the emerging boomer generation. While the movie contains several memorable scenes and one iconic song, it also contains a scene that portends the black cloud about to descend upon "civilized" man. The scene I'm referring to is when Mr MgGuire pulls Ben (the graduate) aside to tell him the following:
"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word... Plastics. There's a great future in plastics. Think about it! Will you think about it?"
"Yes, I will."
"Enough said. That's a deal."
While there may have been a "great future" in plastics financially — it's now a $375-billion-a-year industry — it turns out plastics have been devastating on many other levels, most of them health-related.
The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics, and the Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury it.
MARIAH BLAKE, MOTHER JONES - Each night at dinnertime, a familiar ritual played out in Michael Green's home: He'd slide a stainless steel sippy cup across the table to his two-year-old daughter, Juliette, and she'd howl for the pink plastic one. Often, Green gave in. But he had a nagging feeling. As an environmental-health advocate, he had fought to rid sippy cups and baby bottles of the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a long list of serious health problems. Juliette's sippy cup was made from a new generation of BPA-free plastics, but Green, who runs the Oakland, California-based Center for Environmental Health, had come across research suggesting some of these contained synthetic estrogens, too.
He pondered these findings as the center prepared for its anniversary celebration in October 2011. That evening, Green, a slight man with scruffy blond hair and pale-blue eyes, took the stage and set Juliette's sippy cups on the podium. He recounted their nightly standoffs. "When she wins…every time I worry about what are the health impacts of the chemicals leaching out of that sippy cup," he said, before listing some of the problems linked to those chemicals — cancer, diabetes, obesity. To help solve the riddle, he said, his organization planned to test BPA-free sippy cups for estrogenlike chemicals.
The center shipped Juliette's plastic cup, along with 17 others purchased from Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us, to CertiChem, a lab in Austin, Texas. More than a quarter — including Juliette's — came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab's findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics.
CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that "almost all" commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens — even when they weren't exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun's ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner's research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.
Are Any Plastics Safe? Industry Tries to Hide Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Bottles, Containers
DEMOCRACY NOW - A new exposé by Mother Jones magazine may shock anyone who drinks out of plastic bottles, gives their children plastic sippy cups, eats out of plastic containers, or stores food with plastic wrap. For years, public campaigns have been waged against plastic containing bisphenol-A (BPA), a controversial plastic additive, due to concerns about adverse human health effects caused by the exposure to synthetic estrogen.
But a new investigation by Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake has revealed that chemicals used to replace BPA may be just as dangerous to your health, if not more. Plastic products being advertised as BPA-free — and sold by companies such as Evenflo, Nalgene and Tupperware — are still releasing synthetic estrogen. The Mother Jones piece also reveals how the plastics industry has used a "Big Tobacco-style campaign" to bury the disturbing scientific evidence about the products you use every day. Blake joins us to discuss her findings.
Do Humans Really Want to be Industry's Lab Rats?
INNERSELF - It would seem, and particularly for mothers, fathers, and grandparents everywhere, that using plastics for anything other than decorations is not at all wise. Just what would be your decision if you knew that what you were feeding your children, or your grandchildren, might one day lead to their developing prostate cancer, breast cancer, or passing along some other degenerative ailment or reproductive genetic defect. Surely a fact that was proven with 100% certainty would stop you in your tracks. But just what probability would be safe enough for you? A chance of 1 in 3, 1 in 10, or 1 in 100? Where is the line that demarcates a product from being "safe" to "toxic"?
In Europe, products are tested before they go on the market, whereas in the States we seem to adhere to "innocent until proven guilty" for chemicals, plastics, and manufactured foods and products. To quote from the above MotherJones.com article, "Under US law, chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise, and companies are rarely required to collect or disclose chemical-safety data."
Do we really think it is a good idea to "use new products now" and have a "wait and see attitude" about what happens down the road? What about effects that take a generation or two to reveal themselves? Can we really assume, without any peer-reviewed research to support our assumption, that a new product or ingredient is safe? Thoughts of DDT, BPA, and GMOs come to mind.
If our collective decision as a civilization is to trust, shouldn't we at least verify? And at what point does intentional misrepresentation (by corporations and research paid for by industry) become criminal? Is there not a problem with people from the chemical industry being appointed to the FDA to supervise the very agencies they were working for the day before? And, is there any question of inappropriate motivation (or financial motivation) when FDA employees resign and quickly move into highly-paid positions for the very industries they were regulating, or perhaps more aptly said, not regulating the day before?
There are many questions we need to collectively answer if we are to ensure the health of ourselves, of our children and of future generations. In the case of the future of our children and their children, is it not best to err on the side of safety? The old adage "better safe than sorry" could be our motto when dealing with new chemicals and new additives and the health of future generations.
Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?--A Scientific Detective Story...
by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peter Meyers.
This work by two leading environmental scientists and an award-winning journalist picks up where Rachel Carson's Silent Spring left off, offering evidence that synthetic chemicals may have upset our normal reproductive and developmental processes. By threatening the fundamental process that perpetuates survival, these chemicals may be invisibly undermining the human race. This investigative account identifies the ways that pollutants are disrupting human reproductive patterns and directly causing such problems as birth defects, sexual abnormalities, and reproductive failures.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.