Scientists criticise new EU proposal for identifying EDCs

July 14, 2016 at 10:28 am | Posted in Feature Articles, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Concerns about “confused set of processes” and too high a burden of proof, says letter

Letterbox w768 - Christian Guthier - flickr

A group of scientists investigating how to make best use of the best evidence to identify and classify endocrine disruptors, have written to EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis to voice concerns about the EU’s newly-proposed criteria for identification and regulation of endocrine disruptors.

The scientists are concerned about two main things:

  • That the criteria place an under-defined, potentially unprecedentedly high, burden of proof on identifying problem compounds as having endocrine disrupting properties, with the result that the identification process will be either conducted inconsistently, or only a very small proportion of actual EDCs may be classified as such.
  • That the criteria present a confused set of processes for identifying, evaluating and integrating scientific evidence which unnecessarily privilege certain types of data, and cannot be adequately operationalised for regulatory identification of EDCs.

The concerns are summarised in an opinion piece published in Euractiv. They are derived from the SYRINA Framework, a newly-published piece of research which outlines how to make best use of existing evidence for identifying and classifying EDCs, which is available here.

Similar concerns to those raised in the letter have been raised by other researchers, including in a letter to the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology which says the criteria “ensure that hardly any endocrine disruptors used as pesticides will be barred from commerce”, and a report from environment lawyers ClientEarth which concludes the proposed criteria are illegal “because they limit the identification of endocrine disruptors to those that are known to cause adverse effects”.


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  1. Thank you for the letter, but ultimately the regulation of toxic chemicals is an exercise in futility. We will never know the toxicity of mixtures, in different environments, with different diets, on different species, over generations and so forth. There are way too many endpoints and far too little money time or scientists:

    • I would disagree with this. Regulation will never be entirely successful and knowledge of toxicants will always be incomplete (perhaps massively so) but regulation of chemicals is not an exercise in futility. If it were, then identifying and banning PCBs as problem compounds would have been pointless, and clearly it was not.

  2. Great applause for all you do, Paul

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