When Bayer AG (Leverkusen, Germany) bought Monsanto in 2018, I wondered about the implications of pending lawsuits against Roundup weed killer, which was being blamed for causing non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Why would Bayer take this on? As a polymers manufacturer, it surely knew the pitfalls of trying to defend the safety of products that are being blamed for all types of diseases. Remember the BPA scare? How can we forget!
BPA has been in the headlines for nearly three decades as the cause of various types of cancer, of being an endocrine disrupter and more. Despite years of scientists’ time, thousands of tests on humans and mice and even exoneration by FDA last year, the pit bulls that believe BPA is killing us continue to drag this issue through the mud.
Most recently, Steven Hentges, PhD, wrote in his blog, Facts About BPA, on April 16, 2019, that a group of food scientists conducted a study on our perception of flavor as a component of the aroma released from foods. The aromas, said Hentges, consist of volatile compounds: Aldehyeds, alcohols, esters, ketones, quinines, terpenes, thiols, sulfides and amines. These aromas “can persist for a long time in preserved foods,” he said.
The scientists hypothesized that the volatile compounds in preserved foods “might comprise a sort of chemical time-capsule that could provide insights into the nature of the environments where the foods were grown and the processes used to preserve the foods,” said Hentges. They developed a methodology to analyze volatile compounds in food and applied this to a variety of homemade preserved foods from the early 1950s.
The surprising find for these scientists was that, along with volatile compounds from the preserved foods, they “unexpectedly detected BPA at measurable levels in nearly all of the samples they tested.” Well, maybe not so surprising, as the age of the samples just happened to coincide with the time that the use of epoxy resins—made from BPA—in food packaging began.
BPA has been used for decades as a coating on the underside of lids used on Mason/Ball jars to preserve home-canned foods. It was very effective in keeping out the bacteria that might invade these home-canned foods and compromise their safety.
I remember my mother and my grandmother using these lids when I was a kid helping them do the canning. I used these lids when I did my own canning from my large garden and orchard when I lived in Utah. Home-canned food was safe thanks to these lids. That was the important thing.
Hentges noted that the safety of BPA has been proven time and again, and the levels found in these 60-year-old canned foods were found to be safe. The FDA’s final conclusions on BPA hold up, and even those of us who have been exposed to the BPA in jar lids in our childhood some 60 years ago were not harmed by that material. In fact, it kept us safe.
Now to Roundup. The same extensive testing performed on BPA has been done globally on the agricultural uses of the weed killer, and it has been proven time and again that the product is safe if used as directed. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, has been determined to be non-carcenogenic. However, a California jury awarded a couple with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, who had used Roundup in their yard and garden, an astounding $2.055 billion in damages.