In an article published on June 1, 2016 by the news provider EurActiv, Christopher Borgert, president and principal scientist at U.S. consulting firm Applied Pharmacology & Toxicology, Inc., reports on the debate on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the EU. Borgert states that the debate is “more political than scientific.” It revolves around “allegations that common chemicals used in agriculture and consumer products interfere with hormones that compose the human endocrine system” and claims that they “cause an array of disparate health problems such as birth defects, obesity and autism,” Borgert explains.
In particular, Borgert comments on the consensus statement on scientific principles for the identification of EDCs, achieved at an expert workshop organized by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in April 2016 (FPF reported). The statement “does not address scientific criteria at all, only definitions,” Borgert states. Further, the “only specific scientific criterion” the statement discusses and dismisses is potency, Borgert notes. He explains that “potency is at the core of how the biological effects of chemicals are determined in the first place” and it expresses “the strength of effect produced by a certain amount of a substance.” By not considering potency, “the BfR consensus statement would allow chemicals to be labelled endocrine hazards in the EU, despite lacking sufficient potency to affect anyone’s endocrine system.”
If the European Commission adopts the BfR consensus statement, “an unpredictable regulatory environment wherein manufacturers are left without any useful compass for steering products to the marketplace” will be created. Also, a decision in favor of the BfR consensus statement would please “NGO activist groups who rely on continued controversy to raise funds” and “researchers whose laboratories are heavily invested in this topic.”
Christopher Borgert (June 1, 2016). “Disrupted: The endocrine disruptor debate.”
Solecki, R. et al. (May 4, 2016). “Scientific principles for the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals – a consensus statement.” BfR (pdf)