During an interview Richard Sharpe, an independent researcher from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, UK criticized that the ongoing debate about the harmfulness of BPA discredits the environmental health sciences. According to him, researchers have not conducted a scientific evidence based evaluation of BPA, but rather continued the “crusade” against bisphenol A (BPA) even after big studies could not confirm their early findings.
Richard Sharpe was interviewed by Trevor Butterworth, a contributor to Forbes during the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting 2013, which took place February 14-18, 2013. In the interview the expert, who works on phthalates and whose research group is exclusively funded by public money, stated that the researchers who found the adverse effects of BPA should have either designed better studies to make their findings replicable, or moved on when their findings could not be confirmed by larger, more carefully undertaken studies. Sharp pointed out that the BPA debate is largely built on simplification and a communicative approach focusing on messages, which are easily understood by the public but not necessarily true to the scientific complexity. He argued that it is of primordial importance that scientific conclusions are not based on a single piece of evidence but supported by the bulk of scientific studies. If two studies are as contradictory as the epidemiological link between BPA and obesity and exposure/metabolism studies showing that the biologically active amounts of BPA in the body are so low that they are immeasurable, then an important piece of information is missing. He believes that this contradiction is due to a confounder. Rather than elevated BPA levels causing obesity, he claims, increased consumption might lead to both obesity and elevated BPA levels.
He concludes that public funds should be invested in research on more important environmental health concerns like chemicals that are designed to have high biological activity as well as the health impacts of modern diets rather than be spent on chemicals that the public is only exposed to at low levels.