Usually California’s cast of political characters leads the way in the passage of stupid and counterproductive consumer product regulations. Yet last week, legislative clowns in Minnesota became first in a line of fools on one issue. Minnesota is now the first state to ban baby bottles made with the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). CEI has written on this topic, here, here, here, and here, pointing out that the trace levels of BPA have never been shown to pose a human health hazard during four decades of extensive use in a wide-range of products. It replaced glass baby bottles–which if broken pose real risks.
Such symbolic, yet expensive, bans on baby products have become the modern-day equivalent of candidates kissing babies to get votes. But such bans and regulations are not as innocuous as a cheesy photo-opportunity.
BPA is a very valuable product for making all sorts of products and packaging—providing many public health and other benefits. It makes break-proof containers (such as for baby bottles) and sanitary packaging that keeps our food from becoming exposed to truly dangerous pathogens. For example, it lines many beverage cans and food containers to prevent metals from entering the food and to reduce the potential for bacterial development.
Unfortunately, bans on baby bottles are just the beginning. If regulators phase out BPA, do they know whether the replacements will create new hazards? Surely not—all these lawmakers really know is that it makes politically beneficial press.