Nav: Home

Scientific principles for the identification of endocrine-disrupting chemicals: Consensus statement

October 07, 2016

On the occasion of an expert meeting organised by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a consensus was reached on the identification of endocrine disruptors. The consensus paper was published in the scientific journal Archives of Toxicology.

Twenty-three internationally renowned scientists took part in the meeting. In addition, four observers from the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) were present. Among other things, the consensus paper lists the criteria for identifying endocrine disrupting substances. The scientific principles are an important precondition for creating uniform criteria at EU level as a basis for future human health assessments of substances and products with endocrine disrupting properties. The results of the meeting may therefore support the European Commission in developing regulatory criteria for the identification of endocrine disruptors in pesticides and other chemicals and products.

The current discussion focuses on substances or substance mixtures which alter the function of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or in (sub)populations. Such substances referred to as "endocrine disruptors" include, for example, industrial chemicals or active ingredients in biocides or pesticides. Some endocrine active substances naturally occur in plants, however, for example as ingredients (phytoestrogens). Since such substances in principle play a role in all regulatory areas, it was emphasised that in all regulatory domains procedures and assessment should adopt the "one substance - one assessment" principle.

An inalienable condition for legal regulation is, however, that substances with endocrine disrupting effects that adversely affect the health of an organism or its progeny can be identified with certainty within the regulatory framework. Unfortunately, endocrine disruptors are not a clearly defined group of substances which may be identified as such on the basis of their structural characteristics. Scientific criteria for identifying endocrine-disrupting substances have been the subject of controversial discussion among experts for several years.

At the end of 2014, the European Commission instructed DG Health and Food Safety, to define conclusive criteria for the regulation of endocrine disruptors, so that they could in future be used in European pesticide and biocide legislation. Due to the globally increasing concern with regard to possible adverse effects of endocrine disruptors, active substances used in biocide and pesticide products subject to approval within the EU are in future to be tested more rigorously for endocrine disrupting properties.

The expert meeting held in Berlin was attended by scientists from Europe, the USA and Japan. They discussed the foundations as well as open questions relating to the identification of endocrine disruptors. The two-day expert conference notably focused on the following questions:
  • How should endocrine disruptors be defined in the regulatory context of health assessment?
  • What are the general principles of endocrine effects from a toxicological, pharmacological and endocrinological viewpoint?
  • Which sources of uncertainty influence the identification of endocrine disrupting substances in terms of regulatory decision-making?
  • Which adverse effects caused by endocrine disruptors can already be determined using existing testing methods?
  • Which scientific research activities should be initiated to ensure better identification of endocrine disruptors?

The goal of the scientific discourse was to discuss questions and, where possible, find solutions to current scientific divergences.

BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Related Food Safety Articles:

Are people 'rolling the dice' when it comes to food safety?
A new study, conducted by a team of UK based researchers led by the University of Liverpool known as the ENIGMA Project, has revealed the levels of bad behaviours in UK kitchens which increase the public's risk of getting food poisoning.
European Food Safety Authority confirms sucralose is safe and does not cause cancer
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirms sucralose is safe and does not cause cancer.
Cookbooks give readers (mostly) bad advice on food safety
A recent study finds bestselling cookbooks offer readers little useful advice about reducing food-safety risks, and much of the advice they do provide is inaccurate and not based on sound science.
Study finds recipes with hand-washing, temperature reminders improve food safety
Kansas State University researchers have discovered the secret ingredient to improving kitchen food safety: include hand-washing reminders and meat thermometer instructions in published recipes.
UH team wins $50,000 to learn how to start innovative food safety business
Moving out of their comfort zone as accomplished researchers to become novice entrepreneurs, a team from the University of Houston just won $50,000 to learn how to start a business.
New study to help growers implement water treatment, minimize food safety risks
Faith Critzer, a food safety specialist with University of Tennessee Extension, will lead a new multistate research and outreach project to help fruit and vegetable growers mitigate the risks their water sources might pose to the safety of their produce.
Hong Kong and European Universities working together to advance global food safety
Lund University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark and the University of Bologna jointly announce the addition of DTU and Unibo as new partners in the establishment of a Joint Centre of Excellence in Food Safety (Joint Centre).
Digital tools for more safety in the food chain
When feeds are contaminated with potentially health-damaging substances, such as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS)/per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFC) from the environment, these substances can be transferred into foods such as meat, milk and eggs.
NIFA awards $4.7 million for food safety outreach, education
The US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture today announced more than $4.7 million in grants for food safety education, training and technical assistance projects for producers who are impacted by the new food safety guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Terahertz radiation: A useful source for food safety
A compact and low-cost emitter generates light across the entire terahertz spectrum.

Related Food Safety Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".