I generally like Nicholas Kristof’s articles in the New York Times.  His writings on China and human rights abuses around the world are must-reads and his book (co-authored with his wife Sheryl WuDunn) China Wakes was an important record of the massacre of Tienanmen Square. 

Because of this, I was disappointed to read one of his latest columnsin the New York Times warning against the dangers of Bispherenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in many household cleaners, plastics, and food products.  Kristof sites a number of studies on BPA–to which he offers a link providing a compilation of these studies.  I looked at them. They range from years 2001 to February 2009.  

It’s too bad Kristof didn’t review the New York Times own science blog which in June 2009 questioned the reliability of the studies of BPA to date.  The blog cited a report by STATS, a non-profit, non-partisan organization which corrects the misuse of scientific information and statistics by the media.  The report states:  

Missing in this debate is that it’s not just ‘industry groups’ that think BPA shouldn’t be banned – or just industry-sponsored studies that say it’s safe. Scientists, regulators, politicians in Europe, Australia, and Japan have all rejected the evidence that the chemical is harmful as methodologically flawed, badly conducted, or irrelevant – with some warning that banning it could actually endanger the public. Now that the National Institutes of Health has acknowledged that it funded a lot of poorly-designed research on BPA – the very research that is touted as evidence that the chemical is deadly – it’s time to ask whether America has been spun by clever marketing rather than clever science. 

Kristof concludes his column by saying two bills are pending in Congress to ban the chemical.  It might happen–people are easily scared by this type of thing and this ties in well with the other nanny-state taxes and regulations being considered.  But wouldn’t it be nice if the science was allowed to catch up to the legislation?