The BPA ban and the lame excuses of Julie Parrish

Carla Axtman

I've got to hand it to State Representative Julie Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn), when she decides to go for as many lame ass excuses as possible on why she won't support the BPA ban, she doesn't hold back.

Yesterday, the Oregon House Republicans released a video of Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn) giving a speech on the floor of the Oregon House (I'm not sending them traffic. It's on YouTube. Use the Google). Her point? The Oregon Legislature shouldn't vote to ban BPA because low-income folks can buy cheap products without the chemical if they hunt hard enough on the shelves. In other words, caveat emptor. If consumers happen to buy a BPA tainted product, that's their problem.

At the tail end of the video, she takes a swipe at The Oregon League of Conservation Voters support of the ban. Shorter Parrish: by golly, those eeeeevil enviros might make hay in their community by working to ban a toxic substance. No, no, we can't have that.

But wait, there's more! Constituents have been emailing Parrish at the Legislature, pleading for her to sign on to the ban. Not to be moved, Parrish twists herself up in knots in an onslaught of new and bizarre excuses to vote no.

(More after the jump)

Apparently we can't ban BPA because then it will make it harder for people to buy stuff at Goodwill or consignment stores. Or something.

Sent to Rep. Parrish:

From: Roberta Schwarz [EMAIL REDACTED]

Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 3:21 PM To: Rep Parrish Subject: Please add your signature to the discharge petiton for SB 695 )

Please sign the discharge petition for SB 695 so it can be brought to a vote on the House floor.

Roberta Schwarz [ADDRESS REDACTED]

Parrish's reply:

From: Rep Parrish [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 4:16 PM To: [EMAIL REDACTED] Subject: RE: Please add your signature to the discharge petiton for SB 695

Hi Roberta,

Thanks for the email. I won't be signing the petition on this bill, not because I have any hard position one way or the other on BPA itself, but because I went to more than a dozen stores this weekend ranging from the Dollar Tree to Whole Foods, spent over $500 personally on baby products out of my own pocket (which I'll be donating to our local food pantries), and found not one baby bottle with BPA on any store shelf. I saw that quite a few products were being clearanced out (ones not required in the bill, but would likely be gone before this bill would take effect), and found that for as little as .97c at Fred Meyer, a parent could be a BPA-free baby bottle. For under $1.50, one can purchase a sippy cup with no BPA. I can even get a BPA-free baby bottle at 7-11.

The other elements of this bill don't need legislation either. In fact, this bill is being used as a fundraising vehicle, and I personally take issue with women and moms being pandered to in this manner. It's disheartening to see our children be used as a fundraising tactic. I personally witnessed an event where this bill was rah-rah'd as the environmental bill of the session, and then watched an ensuing paddle-raise for over $100K. On top of that, there were over 1000 people at the event at $125 a plate. You can imagine how profitable that was.

This past week, I got an email from an environmental group raising money for candidates and communications on this issue. For that reason and for the fact that the market has more than solved this problem (dozens of other BPA-free products that aren't even in the bill), I'll be a "no" vote.

As a mother with three young children, there will be no stronger voice for parents in Salem. But I will not see parents and children being used in this manner. If the Legislature really wanted to do something to help low-income women, then the appropriate place for legislation would be in the re-sell marketplace. Stores like Goodwill have no policy around selling used products and don't track whether they are BPA-free or not. In fact, Ifound an identical product to the BPA-free version I bought at Fred Meyer that was being sold at a Goodwill with BPA - likely someone had donated the older variety. I also found assorted plastic-ware, although the store said they don't put out used baby bottles and sippy cups as a rule. However, new in the package they do, and they don't discard the versions with BPA. So, if there's real work to be done, it's there. We've seen similar legislation at re-sell around carseats for example. One cannot purchase a used carseat in a resell or consignment shop any longer.

Roberta, sorry for the drawn out response to your question, but it's become both a complicated and contentious issue at the Capitol this past month, and I want to do my best to explain my decision.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me again.

Best, Julie

Another constituent asks Parrish to support the BPA ban:

From: [NAME REDACTED] Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 10:24 AM To: Rep Parrish Subject: BPA

BPA is a toxic chemical that causes cancer and should not be in the toys, bottles and can liners of food that we give our babies. Please revive SB 695 and help it pass.

Let's not let Coca Cola's interests supercede those of Oregon's youngest.

Thank you,


The response from Parrish would be hysterical if it wasn't so tragic:

Subject:RE: BPA Date:Tue, 24 May 2011 13:35:28 -0700 From:Rep Parrish To:[NAME REDACTED]


Thank you very much for your email. As a mother, the bill interests me, but please know, Coca Cola has no dog in this fight, and if bloggers want to engage voters with lawmakers in a red herring conversation, throwing up bogus reasons why this bill isn't moving, my hope is that Oregonians will do precisely what you're doing, and ask the questions.

Frankly, I'm dismayed by this bill in some ways because as a mother, I feel the bill panders to my inner instincts about keeping my kids safe.

Let me explain:

  • Currently, the private market has removed almost every trace of BPA out of baby and children's products and the products are clearly marked by the manufacturers as such. There are laws that govern advertising for those who make false claims, so we're protected that way, and mothers have a huge array of choices. Fred Meyer even declared this month that they won't sell products with BPA and they didn't need a law to come to that free market decision.

  • The WIC office already has the right through public procurements to pick BPA-free baby formula - theydon't actually need a law, they have just chosen to not write their bids accordingly up until now. So, if I specify in my bid requirements that formula be BPA-free, then manufacturers need to respond appropriately and from there, I would choose low-cost bid. So this has ALWAYS been an option for them.

  • The bill puts in language for a private source to do BPA-free certification. We have groups like this inthe Organic market like Oregon Tilth and Food Alliance, and it didn't take a law to get it done.

My real concern is that some of the same proponents of this bill, under the guise of wanting to protect our children from chemicals, supported a bill that would limit our rights as women to access mid-wives, make it harder to access adoption from both ends of the process, and even take away our rights to bike our children in bike trailers.

So, I ask that you look at this bill in the context of everything else that's happening here in Salem, and remember, if you have questions about where things are in the process, please feel free to write me for updates. They always say if you want to know things, go straight to the source. I wouldn't rely on bloggers as a sole source of information, and I'm always happy to share my thoughts with my neighbors!



By all means Julie, let's not rely on bad information. Let's go to the Coca Cola source on BPA, the company themselves. This would be the part where you get to read FROM Coca Cola how they uses BPA in their soda cans. Damn bloggers and their links.

And yes of course, let's not vote to ban a toxin because in doing so we'd interfere with midwives and people driving their kids around on bicycles. Or something.

Incidentally, "as a mother" (yup..I'm a mom too, Julie), it's completely irresponsible not to ban this substance, not just from children's products but from all consumer goods. The "as a mother" thing is the most lame excuse of all. Being a mother doesn't exempt us from doing the right thing and doesn't soften the stupid of this. Just so we're all clear.

It would be oh refreshing if Parrish would just be honest about this: she's not supporting it because she's afraid to get crosswise with her leadership. Y'know...that leader who is a Coca Cola guy.

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    Also, glad to see that Rep. Parrish is reading BlueOregon, even if she thinks all we've got are red herrings.

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    It's a little ridiculous to cite a source for rebuttal, and not offer the cite:

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      It's more ridiculous to send traffic to the GOP page--which rewards them for their BS. If it means that much to people, they can look it up on their own.

      I'm not doing it.

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        So what you're saying is that no one should verify your conception of Parrish's arguments...unless they do all the work themselves? Silly. If your intent is to stifle any noticeable interest in what GOP members of our state government have to say about issues, then maybe responding to what they say by writing a rebuttal article isn't the best approach.

        I was unaware YouTube hits represented a threat to Oregon democracy.

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 did you get that from me saying: go watch it on YouTube if you really want to see it?

          I'm not interested in sending traffic to the GOP channel on YouTube. This is not that tough of a concept.

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    i just had a chance to watch the video. when she references "testimony from the Senate floor" and the question "Do poor people deserve the same environment that people of higher economic status do?" -- that was not from some Portland liberal.

    that was Sen Atkinson.

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    Her point? The Oregon Legislature shouldn't vote to ban BPA because low-income folks can buy cheap products without the chemical if they hunt hard enough on the shelves.

    To be fair, I heard her argument as being that the Legislature doesn't need to ban BPA because she couldn't find any BPA baby products on the shelves of the various stores she went to, including stores most used by people on public assistance.

    Of course, that's not a compelling reason to not allow a vote on the bill, or a reason to not support it. It's simply a reason the bill would have a smaller impact than it would have years ago, but that's about it.

    Hopefully folks will take her up on her offer (made over on OregonLive) to sponsor a bill next session to restrict the sale of BPA-laden used items at Goodwill, etc. The scratched plastics are the most dangerous.

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      Evan: I went back and watched again. Parrish said that she didn't find a BPA baby bottle at the WalMart she went to. She also mentioned that Rite Aid was putting their BPA products covered in the bill on a massive clearance (apparently so those savvy shoppers can pick some up at vastly marked down prices--putting a bit of a hitch into her argument that low-income folks aren't at higher risk for getting BPA products).

      She did not say, however, that she couldn't find BPA products covered under the bill in the stores where she shopped. Further, OLCV seemed to have no problem finding those products on the shelves, as the blog post on their site today shows:

      I hope folks take her up on her offer, too. But given the GOP House Leader's affiliations with Coca-Cola, I'll be stunned if it goes anywhere.

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        Thanks for the clarification - her email stated: "found not one baby bottle with BPA on any store shelf. I saw that quite a few products were being clearanced out (ones not required in the bill, but would likely be gone before this bill would take effect)."

        But clearly, she's not an independent consumer researcher, which is what you'd want. Those estimated 10% of baby bottles and sippy cups offered in Oregon that still have BPA are out there, and that's a lot of bottles.

        Of course, since the promise was for next session, we may have different Co-Speakers, so Hanna may not be so influential.

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    In the end, who signed the discharge petition?

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    What she fails to mention is that this "inner instinct" that we mothers have is not some purely hysterical argument, but is based upon scores upon scores of academic studies that all conclude that BPA is a dangerous toxic carcinogen. But would she rather, instead of suppporting this bill, want to see a measure on the ballot banning it from everything? Okeydokey fine...

    And seriously, a BPA ban limiting adoption? What other sort of chemical is she using?

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    So it seems to be official, Ben Cannon's discharge petition to bring the BPA bill (SB695) to House floor for a vote failed to garner the 31 signatures. Can someone - anyone - please explain to me the downside of any of the 30 dems to sign on to this? Wouldn't there have been a much better chance to get the 31st signature if all 30 had signed on the first day?

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    So, if this fails, what's the next step, a statewide initiative? Certainly sounds like a campaign issue ahead.

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      FYI: Rep. Brian Clem's working on a solution:

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      Per an email from Clem's office at 4:54pm today: Rep. Clem along with Rep. Cannon have Chief Sponsored a priority bill of Rep. Clem's which will keep the bill alive under a new number (HB 3689). This bill also has 2 Republicans signed on already which is very good news as the discharge petition had zero.

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    I'd also like to ask the Republican opponents of the BPA bill what they'd do if it was discovered that a firearm manufacturing process weakened the barrels of guns, putting them at risk of exploding after a few hundred rounds.

    Would they deride anyone who wanted to outlaw that manufacturing process as a socialist in a nanny state?

    Would they insist that firearm manufacturers be allowed to continue making and selling those guns known to be time-bombs in the name of free market solutions?

    Would they say it's condescending to take the guns off the shelves and not let consumers -- especially poor ones -- make their own choices about explosive barrels?

    Would they say that it's the responsibility of gun purchasers to be up-to-date on manufacturing processes, and be smart enough to check each and every item for a hard-to-read code (not a warning, but an obscure 3-letter code), while defending the right of retailers to continue marketing the dangerous products?

    Honestly, I don't know how people can look at themselves in the mirror when they are fighting to protect the right of manufacturers and retailers to "choose" whether to continue making and marketing bottles that can cause neurological harm to people who are too young to make the choice for themselves.

    If BPA were a gun problem, this bill would have sailed through the R aisle with flying colors a long time ago.

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    I'm just confused about what, exactly, is Julie Parrish's point?

    If the product is already coming off the shelves, then there's even less harm to the BPA manufacturers and retailers than there was before.

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      I think her point is that legislation is onerous if the market is already doing the job. That's a fairly standard conservative strain of thought, and it does make sense in certain areas--but there's little common sense rationale in arguing for the market to be able to determine whether infants are exposed to BPA, if in fact the market is still propagating that exposure to ANY extent. To paraphrase "And the Band Played On," how many poisoned babies do you need to pass the bill?

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    And by the way, personal to Representative Parrish -- you're welcome to defend yourself here in the comments on BlueOregon.

    We'll argue with you, we'll challenge your assumptions, we'll point out when you're wrong -- but we'll be respectful. You might check in with Rob Kremer and Jack Roberts about that.

    Come on in, the water's warm!

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    Perhaps if all of you got the science right to begin with we wouldn't be wasting time with this conversation.

    In April 2011, a comprehensive review by the German Society of Toxicology of thousands of studies on BPA concluded:“[BPA] exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.”

    The EPA has established a level where there are no observable effects from BPA. This level is 50 mg per kg of body weight per day. The EPA wanted to be extra safe and divided that by 1000. The EPA safe exposure level is .05 mg per kg of body weight per day. Human exposure to BPA (babies, children and adults) is currently 100 to 1000 times less than the safe exposure limit.

    The European Union’s Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced in Sept. 2010 that it would take no action to reduce or ban bisphenol A. EFSA has continued to find that such grounds do not exist, and that the evidence that the chemical is dangerous is just not methodologically or statistically convincing.

    According to data from a 1999 National Academy of Sciences study, exposure to natural phytoestrogens is 100,000 to 1 million times higher than exposure to estrogen mimicking substances found in BPA. “Given the huge relative disparity between the exposure to phytoestrogens as compared to BPA concentrations, the risk of BPA in consumer products appears to be about the same as a tablespoon of soy milk”

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “An adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses.”

    The European Union Risk Assessment: The EU’s risk assessments in 2006 and reviews in 2008 and 2010 find no compelling evidence of BPA-related health effects at estimated human exposure levels.

    National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan): This extensive study found that “the risks posed by BPA were below the levels of concern.”

    Perhaps we should introduce a bill that addresses chemical hypochondriacs. ;)

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      Todd, once again: Please disclose whether you or your employer - the Cascade Policy Institute - is being compensated for its work advocating on this issue.

      Your contributions here are welcome, but we've got a full disclosure policy.

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        It always comes back to this for you. There is no corporation lining my pockets with dough to fight the BPA ban.

        I have not addressed your continuing claims of such because I find it to be a childish attack that is irrelevant to the facts surrounding this issue.

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          No corporation--but CPI is not a corporation. Is ANY entity compensating you?

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            Obviously everyone on this page that advocates for a BPA ban must somehow be funded by the corporations that are already providing the alternatives.

            Who are you working for? BPA free bottle producers?! I knew it! ;)

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              Cut the crap, Todd. You know as well as we do that CPI is a corporate tool. Why pretend otherwise?

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              So the answer is: yes, you are being paid to be an advocate for BPA? What's so hard about giving a straight answer?

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              I'm confused now. Are you or your employer being compensated by someone with an economic interest in this legislation - or not?

              Confirm or deny, please.

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                They are not (I'm a friend of Todd's).

                I have a question Kari. Has there ever been a product ban proposed that you didn't support? If so, which one?

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                  But let's say hypothetically that Todd is. Does that necessarily mean his information isn't true? Sure it's good to have skepticism if there is special interest (there isn't, but I'm being hypothetical here). If Coca Cola tells you that Pepsi is bad for you, there is special interest there. Is it necessarily untrue? Technically, one could be paid to write something that is true, no?

                  I'd say rather than making unfounded claims about who is funded by whom, you should spend more time trying to refute the facts he has presented. If you could prove they were untrue, there's no need to even bother with this stultiloquence about him having economic interest, right?

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          Todd, if you're not getting any compensation to work on this issue, well, that's cool.

          I was asking because there's a widespread belief that you're being compensated to advocate on this issue in public. If that's not true, that's great.

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      Todd, I appreciate that we're dealing with scientific uncertainty. But you're cherry-picking when it comes to portraying the views of the Food and Drug Administration.

      Google "FDA BPA" and find this statement from the FDA:

      on the basis of results from recent studies using novel approaches to test for subtle effects, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.

      FDA is taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply. These steps include:

      supporting the industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and infant feeding cups for the U.S. market; facilitating the development of alternatives to BPA for the linings of infant formula cans; and supporting efforts to replace BPA or minimize BPA levels in other food can linings.

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        U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP): This review found no direct evidence of problems among humans. It expressed minimal to negligible concern for almost all factors. It called for more research in one area where it has only “some concern” because rodent studies showed some association of potential effects on behavior.

        Most of the concerns about BPA are related to findings from rodent tests alleging a link between this substance and various potential health problems from obesity to cancer. However, regulatory bodies have found these findings unreliable for a variety of reasons including:

        1.In many studies, the animals were exposed to levels far above existing human exposures.

        2.These studies fail to account for interspecies differences.

        3.Exposure routes were different: The animals were injected with BPA, while humans ingested it.

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      The European Union banned BPA in baby bottles last year:

      The ban outlawed the manufacture of baby bottles containing BPA in March of this year. The law also fully bans the import & sale of these containers starting yesterday.

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      Todd!! Now you have ruined everything! Do you mean to tell us that all of this slandering of Rep. Parrish was based upon a lie? All of this manufactured outrage was just a political contrivance because Carla needed to come up with an issue that would enrage the people who read it? Do you mean all of this feigned but not heartfelt over the health and safety of our children...OUR CHILDREN Todd was based upon nothing and our children used as political props of the left all for nothing?

      I don't suppose I need to point out the hypocrisy of all of this huffing and puffing to protect the lives of babies that most of the people here advocate leaving up to the whim and caprice of the mother and whether or not it is convenient for her to take responsibility for the life she created.

      pretty pathetic people

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    This seems to have become quite the case celebre in this session. The science, fo course, is that the doses of BPA in any currently manufactured product are orders of magnitude beneath any possible toxicity. As in:

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      "Our results showed that very low doses of BPA induce apoptosis (2 to 3 times) as assessed using M30 antibody immunofluorescent detection, and necrosis (1.3 to 1.7 times) as assessed through the cytosolic Adenylate Kinase (AK) activity after cell membrane damage. We also showed that BPA increased significantly the tumor-necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) gene expression and protein excretion as measured by real-time RT-PCR and ELISA luminescent test, respectively. Moreover, we observed that induction of AK activation and TNF-alpha gene expression require lower levels of BPA than apoptosis or TNF-alpha protein excretion. Our findings suggest that exposure of placental cells to low doses of BPA may cause detrimental effects, leading in vivo to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity and pregnancy loss."

      Increased susceptibility for children with BPA has been found and attributed to their reduced capacity to eliminate xenobiotics and also their estimated higher daily exposure to BPA, adjusted for weight, compared to adults.


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      BPA is one of the myriad of chemicals used in manufacturing that interfere with natural hormone function. Their effects are often more than cumulative - they increase the ill effects of other xenohormones and endocrine disruptors.

      FDA statements:

      "At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children."

      "FDA is supporting reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA, including actions by industry and recommendations to consumers on food preparation."


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    BPA is like greenhouse gases: they create horrible delayed effects that takes considerable attention to link to the cause. This creates great cover for the irresponsible and morally bankrupt.

    As usual, follow the money.

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    Fabulous post Carla.

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    Does anyone have an update on the Brian Clem initiative to rescue this legislation?

    Amazing that the Cascade Policy Institute would try to peddle their toxic waste in propaganda and the right to pollute the bodies of children here.

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    It makes me sick that that TOOL is my representative in the state legislature. Just as thin-brained and lock-step reich-wing as we expected her to be.

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    Oh, and given that my wife died of breast cancer, I find suggestions that BPA isn't a threat to human health to be deeply offensive.

    Do you corporate shills have no shame whatsoever? (Nevermind. Dumb question.)

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