On October 30, 2015 the Health & Environment (H&E) blog published an article on “EDCs, scientific review & the ‘manufacture of uncertainty’.” The article outlines the controversy around the 2012 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and World Health Organization (WHO) report “State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012” (WHO/UNEP EDC report) authored by Prof. Åke Bergman of Swetox, Sweden and colleagues (FPF reported). The report was heavily criticized in a 2014 publication by James Lamb of consultancy Exponent, U.S., and colleagues claiming that it “does not provide a balanced perspective, nor does it accurately reflect the state of the science on endocrine disruption.” Bergman et al. responded to the critical comments in 2015 judging the criticism as “not particularly erudite” and “not intended to be convincing to the scientific community, but to confuse the scientific data” (FPF reported). The H&E article highlights that the critical comments published by Lamb et al. were mostly generic and could affect any narrative literature review. Thus, H&E raises the question: “If generic criticisms of narrative reviews are legitimate and easy to make, what then is the value of narrative, state-of-the-science reports?” In the case of the 2012 WHO/UNEP EDC report, H&E states that “knowing what a group of experts think is useful, even if it is not necessarily decisive.” Overall, the debate over the EDC report showed a “shared recognition of the need for systematic review methods for synthesizing evidence of environmental harm in chemical risk assessment,” however there is not yet a clear vision of implementation.
Health & Environment (October 30, 2015). “EDCs, scientific review & the ‘manufacture of uncertainty’.”
Bergman, Å. et al. (2013). ”State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012.” United Nations Environment Program and World Health Organization
Lamb IV, J.C. et al. (2014). “Critical comments on the WHO-UNEP state of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012.” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 69(1):22–40.
Bergman, Å. et al. (2015). ”Manufacturing doubt about endocrine disrupter science – A rebuttal of industry-sponsored critical comments on the UNEP/WHO report ‘State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals 2012’.” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (online July 31, 2015).