ARE PLASTIC CONTAINERS TOXIC ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

ARE PLASTIC CONTAINERS TOXIC ?  Here we go again :

On Feb. 23, 2013, I published an article on food safety on my desertification blog : <http://desertification.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/can-food-crops-be-grown-safely-in-plastic-containers-willem-van-cotthem/&gt;.

Since that day and to the best of my knowledge, no scientific publication showed that BPA or BPS, supposedly leaching from plastic containers, re-used to grow food crops, is absorbed by the roots of those crops, thus making the plants toxic.

Today, Jesse MARANO informed me about the existence of a student study of May 17, 2010, entitled : “BPA plant-growth study yields unexpected results – College student’s independent study project uncovers what happens to plants when they absorb bisphenol A”.

Here is the more important part of Jareau CORDELL’s publication on MNN – <http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/bpa-plant-growth-study-yields-unexpected-results&gt; :

“So when Cordell put together an independent study project to study the effects of BPA on plant growth, he thought it would be a rather cut-and-dried case. He thought the plants exposed to BPA would die — but they didn’t. In fact, they were bigger and broader than the plants in the study that were not exposed to the chemical.

With the help of his biology professors, Cordell tested 144 plants — green beans and Indian mustard seeds. Cordell said the control groups were watered using tap water. The rest of the plants were watered using water heated in a microwave in a plastic baby bottle Cordell bought from a dollar store.

Assistant professor David Jones said this experiment shows that the plants are taking up the BPA-infected water and holding it. Jones doesn’t think Cordell’s results indicate that BPA might be good for plants.

“I don’t think this is a positive thing — I think it’s a dangerous thing,” he said in an interview with Utah’s The Spectrum newspaper.

Since receiving the test results, Cordell has contacted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are apparently eager to see his data.”

=====================

MY COMMENTS (Willem Van Cotthem)

Not having read this student’s scientific publication of 2010 itself, I have to accept the “unexpected results” as published by MNN and try to come to some conclusions :

(1) Green beans and Indian mustard plants irrigated with “water heated in a microwave in a plastic baby bottle Cordell bought from a dollar store” (supposed to be loaded with BPA leaching from that bottle at high temperatures) grew better than the same plants irrigated with tap water.  Seemingly, the crops did not show any negative effect of the BPA that was supposed to be present in the irrigation water.  Unfortunately, we don’t have any indication on the concentration of BPA in that water.

(2)  We do not know (on the basis of this MNN-article !) which data have conducted Assistant-Professor David JONES to the conclusion that the plants were “taking up the BPA-infected water and holding it”.  Any sign of it in the fact that these plants were growing “bigger and broader” ?

(3) We do not understand why Prof. JONES “doesn’t think Cordell’s results indicate that BPA might be good for plants”, and “I don’t think this is a positive thing — I think it’s a dangerous thing,”

(4) As the U.S.-FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were apparently eager to see his data in 2010, it would be interesting to know something about their conclusions.  If indeed, CORDELL’s study has shown that BPA (leaching in boiling water from a plastic baby bottle) is absorbed by food crops, stimulating these food crops to grow bigger and broader than the same crops irrigated with tap water, it should be extremely easy to show undeniably that this toxic BPA is present in the food crops, thus rendering them toxic for human consumption.

Why don’t we find any scientific report showing this once and forever ?  Therefore, we continue to make an appeal on the scientific experts to deliver a detailed study, giving a clear answer on my question : “If BPA or BPS is leaching from plastic containers filled with soil, is this toxic substance absorbed by food crops growing in those containers ?”.

Still looking forward !

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.