Bisphenol A: How Wal-Mart Became the New FDA
Marc Gunther of Fortune Magazine wrote a long and thoughtful piece on the Bisphenol A (BPA) controversy; he spiked much of it for Fortune because he found himself conflicted over the safety issues. He notes that the Federal Drug Administration didn't pull polycarbonate bottles off the shelves because of BPA (it still says they are safe) but Wal-Mart did, and wonders when retailers became the arbiters of safety.
"I’ve come to the conclusion that the BPA story is, in essence, about trust. It’s another bit of evidence to support my argument that it makes business sense in the long run for companies to be responsible and prudent, even if that costs them money today; regaining trust, once it’s been lost, is both terribly difficult and expensive. It also strikes me that industries that try to weaken government regulation or plant their own people inside regulatory agencies run the risk of getting burned in the end. That’s because when we lost trust in our regulators—as we seem to have lost faith in the FDA—we are [sic] left with mob rule, as manufacturers and retailers (i.e., Wal-Mart) come under pressure to stop making and selling perfectly legal products. Strong and predictable regulation, it seems to me, is better for business as well as for the rest of us than the chaos now surrounding BPA." He concludes:
"There’s an irony here. Traditionally, industries have opposed strong regulation. They don’t want the government looking over their shoulder or telling them what products they can and cannot sell. The BPA saga might be a reason for companies to rethink that position—because, at least in this case, the fact that the government regulators are perceived as weak or under-funded or too friendly to industry has helped create the nightmare the chemical industry is now living."
Read the longer version on ::Greenbiz here or the abbreviated one on ::Fortune
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