In an article published on February 10, 2017 in the journal Science, Warren Cornwall discusses the divide between academic scientists and regulators regarding the types of scientific studies to consider in government authorities’ risk assessment of chemicals. Naming the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) as a prominent example, Cornwall illustrates the “disputes surrounding regulations over chemicals ranging from flame retardants to pesticides.” He highlights the difference between peer-reviewed academic research and guidelines studies that follow good laboratory practice (GLP). GLP includes “standards for data collection, record keeping, and acceptable kinds of tests,” and is mostly used by industry and government laboratories. In contrast, academic research uses advanced scientific techniques and relies “on the scrutiny . . . from granting agencies, peer-reviewed journals, and university committees.” According to Chris Portier, former head of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), “regulators have come to treat guideline studies as a more definitive statement that a chemical is safe, and more reliable than less-scripted academic studies.” Thus, most academic research “is being ignored when it comes to public health protection from environmental chemicals,” explained Tom Zoeller, professor of biology and research endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S.. Further, Cornwall informs about the Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity (CLARITY-BPA), which is an initiative headed by NIEHS with the aim to merge academic and government research methods and shed more light on the potential risks of BPA (FPF reported). CLARITY-BPA shall also provide a new model for assessing chemical safety.
Warren Cornwall (February 10, 2017). “Rules of evidence.” Science 355(6325):564-567.