During the past three years, the Endocrine Society has worked to expand its global advocacy concerning endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The Society has become a recognized leader in advocating for policies and regulatory strategies for EDCs that reflect the latest endocrine science and incorporate principles of endocrinology. EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the normal function of hormonal systems, thereby causing adverse health consequences. Reflecting the Society’s growing impact and influence in this critical area, in May the Society formed a new EDC Advisory Group, to promote an integrated approach to our work on EDCs, including education, advocacy, and professional resources. The Advisory Group is chaired by Angel Nadal, PhD, professor of physiology, Institute of Bioengineering and CIBERDEM, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Alacant, Spain.
The new EDC Advisory Group has been active immediately, contributing to important international meetings to discuss the science of EDCs and how endocrine science can be incorporated into regulatory decision-making processes. In May and June, Nadal, with Laura Vandenberg, PhD, and R. Thomas Zoeller, PhD, participated in a workshop sponsored by the European Commission on setting priorities for further development and validation of test methods and approaches for evaluating EDCs. The workshop, held in Brussels, Belgium, consisted of presentations, discussions in breakout groups and a vote on prioritization. Also, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, MD, PhD, delivered a scientific presentation explaining the official positions of the Endocrine Society on the EU draft criteria for the identification of EDCs at a meeting of the Austrian Platform for Endocrine Substances in Vienna, Austria.
As mentioned in previous issues of Endocrine News, the European Commission has been working for several years on criteria to define EDCs in the context of applicable laws. The current proposed draft under consideration by the Member States is opposed by the Endocrine Society because the criteria are excessively narrow and include exclusions for chemicals specifically designed to disrupt target insect endocrine systems that have similarities to systems in wildlife and humans. Consequently, the criteria will fail to effectively protect the public from harms due to EDC exposures.
On June 15, the Endocrine Society developed a letter to European Member State ministries that, through an outreach strategy led by Bourguignon, was co-signed by the Art Jan van der Lely, MD, PhD, president of the European Society of Endocrinology; Peter Clayton, MD, MRCP, FRCPCH, secretary-general of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology; and Angel Nadal as chair of the Society’s EDC Advisory Group. Representing the opinion of three of the world’s leading international medical and scientific organizations devoted to endocrine research and care, the statement opposes the proposed criteria and strenuously objects to the loopholes present in the criteria for certain pesticides. The letter urges Member States to improve the criteria by:
- Removing the exemption for biocides and pesticides designed to act on endocrine systems;
- Adhering to a science‐based definition of EDCs that includes categories for known EDCs and chemicals for which more information is needed to make a determination; and
- Maintaining a hazard‐based identification system, without derogations based on risk.
We anticipate that the criteria will be submitted for approval by the EU member states in mid-July. Following the approval, the criteria would go to the European Parliament for a vote. Implementation of the criteria will be guided by the European Chemicals Agency and the European Food Safety Authority. We will continue to keep members apprised of this developing issue, and we will stay engaged with the European Union throughout the legislative and regulatory processes related to the EDC criteria.