FDA Chair Studying BPA Took $5 Million Donation From BPA Supporter
1) Martin Philbert is Chair of the committee looking at the safety of Bisphenol A (BPA.)
2) Philbert is founder and co-director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center.
3) Philbert's Center receives $5 million (50 times its annual budget) donation from Charles Gelman, who thinks that health risks posed by BPA are exaggerated by "mothers' groups and others who don't know the science." According to Sourcewatch, Gelman also supports our favorite Competitive Enterprise Institute, famous for "CO2: We call it life" the CATO Institute, and Junkscience.com, although all of his previous donations to these types of organizations totalled $72,977; $5 million is a completely different ballpark.
4) Notwithstanding a mountain of new studies about the dangers of BPA, the FDA finds that BPA is safe for babies.
According to Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger of the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, "Philbert did not disclose the donation to the FDA, and agency officials learned of it when reporters asked about it. Norris Alderson, the FDA's associate commissioner for science, looked into the matter and said he was satisfied that there was no conflict of interest because Philbert's salary is not paid by the donation."
The New York Times isn't so sure, and wrote in its editorial today:
"That is an incredibly narrow definition of what might constitute a conflict.
We are not challenging the integrity of Dr. Philbert, who told the Journal Sentinel that he was impartial and denied that the Gelman family had ever tried to influence his judgment. We are certain that Dr. Philbert should have disclosed the contribution. And we are certain that the F.D.A.’s review of the matter needs to be a lot more rigorous and transparent.
The agency also must explain more fully how it will mitigate any possible conflict or else ask Dr. Philbert to step aside. Consumers need to know that any decision on BPA is completely unbiased — and that the F.D.A. is, too."
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