Props to The Washington Spectator for their great weekend investigative piece about the David v. Goliath struggle involving two Austin Texas labs, CertiChem and PlastiPure.
We’ve discussed before how some very rich companies (and people ) think of the legal system as their own personal plaything (while championing severe restrictions on the legal rights of everyday people.)
To wit, the $9.4 billion dollar company, Eastman Chemical, is suing these two independent testing safety labs which rent space in a North Austin commerical strip mall. Eastman Chemical says these two labs are a “threat to its business, if not a competitor.” First, some background:
Eastman Chemical's Tritan(TM) resins -- used in a broad array of plastic consumer products, including baby bottles, food containers, and water bottles [which] Eastman Chemical claims … are free of chemicals with estrogenic activity ("EA-Free") and "safe" for consumers.
However, CertiChem and PlastiPure have published peer-reviewed results that show Tritan(TM) resins and products leach chemicals having significant estrogenic activity (EA) after common-use stresses, often at levels equal to the EA of polycarbonate plastics made from BPA-- a chemical now banned by the FDA for use in baby bottles and sippy cups because of safety concerns about potential harm. Much of the companies' important research, some of it on Tritan(TM), has been peer-reviewed funded by NSF and NIH. CertiChem's findings of EA in Tritan(TM) triggered the lawsuit by Eastman Chemical.
Eastman loves its Tritan, you see. “We were able to make the statement that our product is not made with BPA and would release data to consumers to support that fact,” said an Eastman VP in an recent NPR story.
Indeed, as reported by The Spectator, which reviewed “hundreds of pages of documents,” including expert depositions,
Producers of plastic containers shifted from BPA to the resins that Eastman advertised as the solution to health risks biologists and toxicologists found in polycarbonate products made from BPA.
Nalgene (water bottles), Thermos Foggo (sippy cups), Sonoma (wine glasses), to name a few brands, turned to EA-free Tritan as an alternative to plastics that leach EA chemicals.
But according to Dr. George Bittner, a University of Texas neurobiology professor and CEO of CertiChem, “My bet would be that [Tritan ] probably has a high probability of having adverse health effects … [when] consumed by a particularly vulnerable population, which would be the fetus, the infant, or the juvenile.”
Writes The Spectator:
Eastman’s attorneys have asked the court to enjoin PlastiPure and CertiChem from ever saying that Tritan “exhibits any measurable level of EA,” and from representing that the MCF-7 test CertiChem used to measure the estrogenicity of Eastman’s Tritan resin “is sufficient, standing alone, to establish that any tested chemical or substance has EA.”
Nowhere in Eastman’s pleadings are the results of those tests refuted.
Asking Bittner and CertiChem to refrain from claiming that their test can detect EA in a chemical or substance would put the company out of business. It could also pose a threat to other labs arriving at similar conclusions.
Of which there already are some:
[T]he results of Bittner’s tests were confirmed after Eastman filed suit. Michael Denison is a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Davis. Brought in as an expert witness by attorneys representing the defendants, Denison supervised tests of Tritan resins in his own lab.
He used a different assay, a BG1-Luc test which uses firefly luciferace to determine if cancerous ovarian cells respond to estrogenic chemicals. Denison found that Tritan “contains compounds with EA,” according to results he filed in court.
The assay that Denison uses has been validated by the U.S. Health Department’s Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (an evaluation process that can take as long as 10 years after a test is nominated; Bittner’s MCF-7 assay has been in ICCVAM’s evaluation process for six years.)
And there has been even more bad news for Eastman, but coincidently, those test results “were not included in a paper that Eastman paid a toxicologist to write for a peer-revealed journal, according to court records,” about which, “an Eastman consultant wrote in an e-mail, ‘There would be no Eastman author, nor mention of Eastman.’”
So, we're happy to tell you all about it here.