A longstanding priority of the Endocrine Society is to advance science-based regulatory policies that minimize harms from endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and I have been so proud seeing how our members’ work in the European Union (EU) has enabled policy makers to make better decisions using scientific information. For several years now, our EU EDC Task Force has engaged with EU policy makers at all levels as they grappled first with establishing EDCs as an issue of concern, then worked to develop criteria to define EDCs in applicable laws, and then to include EDCs as part of an overarching “chemicals strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment.”
The chemicals strategy is part of a commitment by the Commission to better protect citizens and the environment from harmful chemical exposures and boost innovation towards safe and sustainable chemicals. Considering our influence and expertise, we have a seat on the policy decision-making platform known as the High-Level Roundtable on the Chemicals Strategy along with other leaders from EU Member States, industry, civil society, and international organizations and scientists, who will support the Commission in achieving the objectives of the strategy and monitor its implementation.
On November 25, the Roundtable adopted a joint report on compliance and enforcement of chemicals legislation, agreeing on a set of 10 recommendations that will guide further legislative and regulatory activities. We were pleased to contribute to a section in the report on “science and enforcement” that described opportunities to enhance the dialogue between scientists, consumers, and regulators. Importantly, endocrine disruption was an area where discipline-specific expertise was acknowledged as required for “appropriate and coherent legislation” that “corresponds and reacts to science and technology development.”
This report was the first in what will become a series of reports adopted by the Commission on a variety of subjects relevant to the strategy, and we expect future meetings will also reflect the value of scientific expertise. The next Roundtable meeting in May 2022 will focus on research and innovation for the transition to safe and sustainable chemicals. Looking ahead, the Endocrine Society is urging the Commission to advance discussions about the intersection between the environment and public health at future meetings so that we and others can propose legislative and regulatory improvements that will have the greatest public and environmental health impact.
In parallel to the roundtable activities, the Commission has also launched initiatives aimed at improving regulatory processes, specifically the REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemicals) and CLP (classification, labelling, and packaging) regulations. This is a strong signal that authorities intend to move quickly on legislative solutions to regulatory gaps, and a new hazard class for EDCs is under discussion for both REACH and CLP. Our EU EDC Task Force is preparing our contributions to public consultations informing revisions to these regulations so that they are capable of efficiently and accurately assessing EDCs towards better consumer protections.
While EU policy activities on EDCs are progressing rapidly, we also remain engaged with policy makers, regulatory agencies, and scientific leaders to advance similar actions in the U.S. and around the world. We recently participated in an educational event during a meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention, following which the Committee unanimously agreed that global action was needed on toxic plastic additives.
We also joined a petition requesting that FDA assess the safety of bisphenol-A, consistent with the updated review prepared by the European Food Safety Agency, indicating harm at much lower levels than previously assumed. Our influence and achievements as a Society are possible because of a strong foundation of endocrine science and the expertise of our member leaders, who have devoted their time and energy to these and other advocacy activities. However, all of our members can have an impact, and I encourage you to contact our Government and Public Affairs team at [email protected] to see how your research and expertise can reach a broader audience of policy makers, regulators, and other public health officials whether you are interested in EDCs, access to healthcare for underserved populations, improving the situation for trainees as pandemic restrictions are eased, or other important priorities.