If the FDA can't see why it's a bad idea to feed everyone -- even babies -- chemical versions of hormones, then they should get out of regulation business altogether.

Just the very idea of feeding uncontrolled and unregulated hormones to the public should be all it takes for an agency charged with protecting public health to shout "NO!"

Instead, they've said, "YES! YES! YES!" -- because once again, the FDA has rejected a petition to ban the hormone-like chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

You've heard of BPA, I'm sure. It's a chemical used in plastics and can linings that mimics estrogen once it's inside the body. And if you're eating food from a plastic package or metal can -- or drink soda -- you're getting some BPA with every swallow.

That's not even up for dispute, by the way. Even the feds admit as much -- they just claim there's no evidence that the small amounts that leech into food and drink pose any risk, as if there's a safe amount of extra estrogen you could feed people.

It's a stunning level of ignorance, because the research on the dangers of BPA is about as clear as anything I've ever seen. Just type "BPA" into Google and search only the news -- not opinions and Web sites with agendas pro or con, just news -- and on any given day you'll find new study on its toxic effects.

I did that just now, as I was writing this, and found a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that shows BPA exposure early in life to be every bit as bad as mercury exposure.

In a series of experiments on zebrafish, exposure shortly after birth "permanently altered" the brain -- leading to behavioral changes both in early development and in adulthood.

That's exactly what those same researchers saw when they exposed the fish to mercury, one of the most toxic heavy metals on the planet.

But that's just today's news.

You don't have to look very hard to find more research, including studies that link BPA to developmental problems, early puberty, sexual and reproductive problems, obesity, diabetes, heart problems, autism, and more.

The best way to avoid this chemical -- the only way, since the FDA won't regulate it -- is to avoid all packaged foods and eat fresh meals each day. And if your child or grandchild is bottle-feeding, make sure you get BPA-free bottles.