The plastics industry has launched a $10 million PR blitz aimed at stopping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from re-evaluating its declaration that a widely-used plastics additive called Bisphenol A (BPA) is safe. The Society for the Plastics Industry, a trade and lobbying group for companies that manufacture products containing BPA, is using many of the same PR strategies, and even the same PR companies, that the tobacco industry used in its decades-long fight against regulation. To discourage reconsideration of the health hazards of BPA, the plastics industry is downplaying the risks of the additive, discrediting anyone who portrays the chemical as a health threat, and utilizing Web 2.0 technology, like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube, to plant "Trojan Horse" messages. The plastics industry is also using the lobbying and PR firms Apco Worldwide and the Weinberg Group, both of which worked closely with the tobacco industry to help confuse the public about the health hazards of secondhand smoke. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel uncovered tobacco industry documents that show the overlap between the two industries. The tobacco industry was concerned about the BPA issue because cigarette filters and package wrapping contain the additive. The documents also show that FDA scientists tapped chemical industry lobbyists for help drafting public safety standards on BPA.
By Anne Landman on August 27, 2009