Allowing Pseudoscience into EU Risk Assessment Processes is Eroding Public Trust in Science … by Daniel Dietrich et al.

“Imagine we are beamed back into the 12th century and are staying overnight at a country tavern. We, by our clothes, are met with both curiosity and hostility from the tavern regulars. In the middle of the night, we are roughly wakened by the owner and some of his men and directly accused of having stolen from one of the regulars after first poisoning him. Despite our protests and the lack of any reasonable proof, we are accused of being thieves and murderers and are subjected to trial by ordeal to prove our innocence …,” wrote Daniel R. Dietrich, Ph.D., et al. in Chemico-Biological Interactions in an editorial online 21 July 2016.

“Unfortunately Europe, in the application of its legislation relating to chemicals, is in danger of falling back into the medieval approach … there have been seemingly endless discussions about ‘endocrine disrupters’ and their postulated human health effects, based on association studies. For these to be causal, they require us to accept that extremely low-level exposures cause effects in humans, whereas most of the experimental data indicate such exposures are without effect. Most recently, the debate on ‘endocrine disruptors’ has shifted focus to the concept that doses of these compounds below their ‘no-observed-effect level’ (in animal and in vitro studies) can cause adverse effects (so-called non-monotonic doseresponse curves), even though the evidence that endocrine systems can be perturbed in this way just does not exist; indeed, there is ample human data on abnormally low hormone exposures that tell us this is not how such systems work. However, this detailed evidence is being ignored and the most prominent proponents of endocrine disruption-mediated human health effects are now using this to argue that hazard identification alone is necessary for regulatory purposes. However, hazard characterization, including potency evaluation, and exposure assessment are the principles on which the protection of humans from adverse effects of environmental chemicals is undertaken, and has proved to be very effective. This is also the consensus approach recommended for endocrine disrupters. This is a logical path that demands detailed evidence gathering and weighing of the science that then forms the basis of the information on which the legal process is based. Do we want to throw this trusted and tried process away?”

Read the full editorial: Dietrich et al Editorial-Chemico-Biological Interactions 21July 2016.

Related correspondence published in Nature: Daniel Dietrich Correspondence-Nature-21July2016.

Related Website

The American Chemistry Council provides information about the science, public policy discussion and perspectives on exposures to natural or man-made substances and any potential effects on the endocrine system. It also lists important scientific papers.