COGC Op-Ed in The Hill: Are Taxpayers Funding Research or Activism?

The Cost of Government Center's Executive Director Mattie Duppler has a piece on The Hill's Congress Blog about some questionable spending happening at the National Institutes of Health. The millions that have been doled out under the auspices of research raise a serious question: is science informing our regulators? Or is activism driving federal rulemaking? In part, the piece reads:

How else, one wonders, has the government been able to spend the last decade shelling out millions in taxpayer dollars to  “independent” scientists for ongoing studies on chemicals the government has already deemed safe?

Data from the National Institutes of Health shows that since 2000, nearly $170 million in grants has been doled out to focus on researching one chemical – bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is used to manufacture hard plastics and epoxy resins. It is used in food packaging and containers to prevent spoilage and breakage, increase shelf life, and make containers reusable.  But it has come under fire from anti-chemical activists for alleged negative effects on human health, despite regulators around the world insisting BPA is safe. Tax dollars funneled to anti-BPA causes through the NIH are helping keep anti-BPA hysteria alive.

To be sure, the U.S. agency in charge of regulating BPA has asserted for years that the compound is safe. On its own website, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conclusively answers the question of whether BPA is safe with one word: “Yes.” This is consistent with the positions of FDA’s counterparts around the world, including regulatory agencies in Canada, Japan, Germany, and the European Union.

Given this unequivocal determination, why are American taxpayers underwriting efforts to actively undermine matters that have been settled by FDA itself? Why is one executive branch agency spending millions of dollars to attack the findings of another agency?

Consider: Over the past four years, spending on BPA research more than doubled, rising from $51 million between FY2000-2009 to more than $120 million between FY2010-2014.

Curiously, the hike in spending coincides with the FDA’s authoritative body on the subject, the National Toxicology Program, releasing a report in 2009 that unequivocally states: “there is no direct evidence that exposure of people to bisphenol A adversely affects reproduction or development.” The release of a decisive report should raise questions about why the government is spending more, not less, on researching the same findings over the following years.

You can read the entire editorial here.

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