In a commentary published on November 29, 2016 in Le Monde Andreas Kortenkamp from Brunel University, United Kingdom, supported by around a hundred other scientists from across the globe, calls upon Europe and the international community to take urgent action to protect the future generations from detrimental effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and climate change.

The scientists recapitulate that science has recurrently found itself under attacks aimed at distorting the scientific evidence, “whenever its discoveries raised questions about commercial activities and vested interests.” The strategy followed by the “manufacturers of doubt” has been thoroughly researched and documented by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their 2010-published book “Merchants of doubt.” Shaped by the petrochemical and tobacco industries, carried over to deny the evidence on global warming, this approach is now being increasingly employed by the agro-chemical sector as well.

Currently, as the European Commission works on EDC identification criteria (FPF reported), its remarkable attempt “to implement the first regulation for endocrine disruptors in the world” and reduce exposures to EDCs is being vigorously opposed by skeptics (FPF reported) disregarding the fact that the scientific consensus has already been reached (FPF reported). These activities create the impression of an ongoing dispute “where no scientific controversy exists.”

The scientists signing the commentary in Le Monde state that “it is no longer acceptable to remain silent,” as they feel responsible “to express the implications of [their] work for society and for future generations and to draw attention to the serious risks.” Since both climate change and EDC science branches have faced the attacks by science deniers, the scientists working in both these fields decided to join forces, also considering that “the actions needed to reduce the burden of endocrine disruptors will also help in the fight against climate change.” This is because most man-made chemicals are manufactured by the petrochemical industry relying on fossil fuels, and petrochemical industry itself has been the major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

Therefore, the scientists led by Kortenkamp “call for the development and implementation of effective measures that address both EDCs and climate change in a coordinated fashion.” They propose approaching this by creating an organization within the United Nations “with the same international standing and charge as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” This organization should “review the science to be used by decision makers in the public interest”, helping to “protect . . . science from the influence of vested interests.” The scientists see this as a step in the right direction, owed “to the generations that have to live in the future.”

Read more

Kortenkamp, A., et al. (2016). “Let’s stop the manipulation of science.Le Monde (published November 29, 2016).

Oreskes, N. and Conway, E. (2010). “Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming.Bloomsbury Press, New York.