The end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 has seen a great deal of activity by MPA and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine in our work to protect Maine citizens from toxic chemicals. The Alliance is building momentum off of its successful presentation to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection in September to petition for the banning of baby food, formula and toddler food packaging containing the toxic chemical BPA (bisphenol-A).
BPA has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including neurological disorders and cancer. It is used as an ingredient in the packaging of many foods. BPA has been shown to leech its way into the foods that it comes into contact with. It has already been phased out or banned in many parts of the world including Europe and Canada. Maine has already banned its use in the manufacture of sippy cups and baby bottles. Affordable alternatives to BPA exist and are readily available for companies to use.
Dozens of MPA members, parents and health experts testified in opposition to a small cadre of out of state industry lobbyists as part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate the use of this harmful chemical. Just a few months later the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) weighed in with its official recommendation to the Board of Environmental Protection. At the behest of Governor Paul Lepage, the DEP, which is the agency charged with protecting citizens from toxic chemicals, sided with the chemical industry in a blatantly political move and recommended against any further regulation of BPA at this time.
Governor Lepage, who received nationwide attention for his comment that the only harm to women from BPA would be that they might grow “little beards,” showed once again that he places the profits of big chemical corporations ahead of the health of Maine children. Even some members of the BEP seemed surprised by the Department’s recommendation, commenting that it contradicted not only a large body of science and expert testimony, but also the results of their own studies.
At a Board meeting in January, the BEP put people over politics and sound science above political pressure and agreed that the chemical needed to come out of baby food and infant formula packaging. They also repeatedly stated their understanding that this toxic chemical is a poison which has no business being in our food. This unanimous decision by the Board, and their recognition about the dangers that BPA poses to Maine citizens in a variety of products shows that Maine remains a national leader in the fight to protect our children from toxic chemicals.
MPA and the Alliance were out in force at the January Board meeting to let board members know where the people of Maine stand and board members leaving the meeting were met by happy moms and children thanking them for standing up for Maine citizens.
Over the next several months the Maine People’s Alliance and the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine will work to help implement and enforce new rules regarding BPA. We also look forward to working with legislators on both sides to continue to strengthen Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act, the umbrella law that enables Maine to identify and regulate toxic chemicals that pose a threat to Maine people. If you would like to join our work on this important issue, contact your local chapter organizer to find out how you can get involved.