Endocrine disrupting chemicals on EU agenda

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European commission, European union

BPA is one chemical in the endocrine debate
BPA is one chemical in the endocrine debate
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have come under the spotlight once again with the main themes being regulation, more research and actions based on the precautionary principle.  

The Berlayment Declaration on endocrine disruptors called for the European Commission to implement a regulatory regime based on sound scientific principles.

In a separate development, international scientists have come together with IPEN and The Endocrine Society to put together a letter to UN officials calling for global actions on EDCs.

Berlaymont Declaration

The Berlaymont Declaration is based on a conference convened by the European Commission in June last year of international scientists, representatives of interest groups, and European Union (EU) Member States in Brussels to discuss endocrine disrupters.

“Scientific uncertainty should not delay regulatory action and commercial interests must not take precedent over concerns about risks associated with endocrine disrupters​,” according to the declaration.

The group identified 10 major views on the subject, including:

  • Internationally agreed test methods currently capture only some of these effects and are inadequate for revealing the full range of the effects of EDCs.
  • Existing EU chemicals regulations are entirely inadequate for identifying EDCs, and internationally validated test methods that have been available for years have not been implemented.
  • Certain EDCs have toxicological properties that preclude the definition of thresholds below which exposures can be deemed safe.
  • There is the plausibility that EDCs cause serious, irreversible harm, but more data are needed for better risk assessment. This tension can only be resolved by supporting further research.

“We recognise that multiple causes underlie these trends, including nutrition or maternal and paternal age. However, because of the rapid pace with which these increases have occurred, explanations solely in terms of genetics, better diagnosis or life style lack plausibility.”

Signatories include professors from Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the UK and US.

International scientists’ letter

Meanwhile, scientists under the banner of IPEN and The Endocrine Society​ have sent a letter to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Secretariat for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

They said that despite a variety of actions on EDCs being called for at an earlier meeting, five months later and a work plan had still yet to be developed and no actions have occurred.

In the letter, dated 19 April, they called for global actions to move forward on EDCs and identified a number of elements to form the basis of the work.

The group said a clear definition of EDCs is needed, the vulnerability of living organisms to them, the effects at low doses, the effect on future generations, the importance of timing of exposure and effects of exposure to EDC mixtures and single substances.

“The precautionary principle is key to enhancing endocrine and reproductive health, and should be used to inform decisions about exposure to, and risk from, potential endocrine disruptors.”

Signatories of the letter range from the IPEN co-chair and president of The Endocrine Society to university scientists from the US, Sweden, UK, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Brazil.  

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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