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Wilfrid Laurier University Laurier Brantford
July 1, 2015

Canadian Excellence

Where Did All The Baby Bottles Go? The media and the regulation of Bisphenol A

In April 2008, Canada became the first government in the world to adopt a ban on products made with the chemical bisphenol A, banning the import, sale and manufacture of polycarbonate baby bottles. This decision was both surprising and consequential. It was surprising because one of the most comprehensive studies of Canada's approach to regulating toxic chemcials (Harrison and Hoberg, 1994) found that, historically, Canada had taken a very closed process for regulating potentially toxic chemicals. It was consequential because, subsequent to this decision, several individual US states and other jurisdictions including France, Denmark and the European Union all followed Canada's lead adopting similar bans. And yet, the scientific evidence about possible effects to human health from BPA is conflicted, at best. I am currently researching the politics of this regulatory decision asking questions such as:

  • What role did the news media play in shaping this regulatory outcome?
  • Why was Canada the first country to adopt this policy?
  • What does this case say about the role of scientific evidence in complex and technical policy fields like the environment?
The first paper from this research project has been accepted for publication in Mass Communication And Society.