On September 14, 2016, a group of 52 international scientists calling themselves Scientists for Scientific European Commission Regulation (SFSECR) published an opinion article in the news provider EurActive on “Endocrine disrupters: Science is more potent than politics”.  The publication is yet another piece in the debate on the EU’s criteria on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) (FPF reported) and a response to the European Commission’s (EC) public consultation on this matter (FPF reported). Earlier in 2016, the EC had published their EDC criteria with a delay of more than 2 years (FPF reported).

The opinion piece’s authors, Christopher Borgert and colleagues of SFSECR, state in their article that potency is the endocrine system’s approach to “distinguish molecules that convey biological information from the other molecules in circulation that interact inconsequentially with hormone receptors”, like “essential fatty acids and most phenols found naturally in fruits and vegetables”. Further, Borgert et al. write “the evaluation of potency is necessary in the hazard identification phase because it provides the necessary link between adverse effects and an endocrine mode of action”, as required by the EC’s proposed EDC criteria.

On September 9, 2016, Herman Autrup, a SFSECR member, and further SFSECR colleagues, published an editorial on “Whither the impending European regulation of presumed endocrine disruptors?” in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Autrup and colleagues write that if the EC’s final EDC criteria ignore potency this will reinforce “a dangerous precedent by further encouraging the creative regulation of putative hazards for putative public health adversities.” He further points out that scientific studies “have yet to yield credible epidemiological evidence of public health adversities linked to xenoendocrine contaminants.” Therefore, he rhetorically asks “Absent a confirmed public health target, what could justify a program to regulate presumed EDCs?”, questioning the entire effort made by the EC to regulate EDCs as a hazard class.

The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) recently published their response to the EC’s EDC criteria, also calling for an inclusion of potency (FPF reported). Several of the SFSECR have conflicts of interest as they have worked for industries like those represented by CEFIC, which likely will be affected by the EC’s EDC regulation (FPF reported). Furthermore, Christopher Borgert is involved with the website “Endocrine Science Matters”, financed by the pesticide industry.

The world’s largest scientific society and authority on endocrine science, the Endocrine Society, also submitted its critical opinion in response to the EC’s call for public comment (FPF reported). In their view, the current criteria require a too high burden of proof and will not sufficiently protect public health.

The EC’s public consultation on its EDC criteria ended in July 2016.

Read more

Borgert, C., et al. (2016). “Endocrine disrupters: Science is more potent than politics.EurActive (published September 14, 2016).

Herman Autrup (2016).  “Whither the impending European regulation of presumed endocrine disruptors?” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (published September 9, 2016).

Chemical Watch (September 22, 2016). “Scientists back potency argument for EDC identification.