On September 21, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Dr. Marcos A. Orellana, presented a thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council on the right to science in the context of toxic substances. The report studies how the human right to benefit from scientific knowledge relates to emerging knowledge of the risks and harms associated with hazardous substances and waste and examines how the science-policy interface affects the diffusion of scientific information and scientific progress in general.
Earlier this year, the Endocrine Society provided recommendations and comments to inform the thematic report. Our comments focused on some of the barriers to the effective translation of scientific knowledge into regulatory action, identified where outdated assumptions have negatively impacted the science-policy interface, and proposed activities that the UN could support to enable all communities to benefit from new scientific information on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). We noted how independent and community groups often face barriers due to insufficient resources, particularly when unequal exposures disproportionately impact these same communities. We also expressed concern about rules that prevent consumers from receiving accurate information about the chemicals in the products that they use.
The Endocrine Society is pleased that the thematic report included our recommendations, and we are encouraged by opportunities to improve the science-policy interface to accelerate the translation of scientific research, provide more access to information for consumers, and deliver better health-protective measures by regulatory agencies.
The final report is consistent in many respects with our suggestions. For example, in his report Orellana highlighted outdated assumptions that no longer apply to chemicals such as EDCs, including that safe thresholds exist, or that males and females should be expected to respond in the same way following exposure. The report further recommended that governments support investigator-initiated research, and “create processes for meaningful public participation, including impacted communities, in policymaking processes concerning hazardous substances.”
The Endocrine Society is pleased that the thematic report included our recommendations, and we are encouraged by opportunities to improve the science-policy interface to accelerate the translation of scientific research, provide more access to information for consumers, and deliver better health-protective measures by regulatory agencies. We look forward to partnering with international agencies to build on the recommendations illustrated in the report and advance the implementation of policies that will minimize harms due to EDC exposures.