New Paper Evaluates the Impact of Chemicals on Humans and Wildlife

July 13, 2000

New Paper Evaluates the Impact of Chemicals on Humans and Wildlife

Exposure to synthetic and naturally occurring chemicals can affect important endocrine pathways and induce toxic responses, according to a new issue paper by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Authors from a variety of scientific disciplines contributed to the CAST paper, Estrogenicity and Endocrine Disruption. It provides an analysis of multiple widely reported issues, such as altered reproductive development and increased incidences of cancer.

There "is evidence that some wildlife problems are due to endocrine disruption," concludes CAST task force chair Stephen H. Safe of the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Texas A&M University in College Station. "However, there is still scientific debate and uncertainty on the environmental impact of endocrine disrupters on human health and some wildlife populations."

Additional authors of the paper include Warren G. Foster, Center for Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California; James C. Lamb, BBL Sciences in Reston, Virginia; Retha R. Newbold, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Glen Van Der Kraak of the Department of Zoology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

The authors also address the specific issue of endocrine disruption's impact on decreased sperm counts and male reproductive capacity as well as increased rates of breast cancer. They conclude that endocrine disrupters are not proven causes in these issues but are an area of concern.

The paper cites numerous areas where additional research is needed. It calls for vigorous research in areas beyond chemical effects to help provide the public with greater certainty about measures needed to protect humans and wildlife.

CAST is an international consortium of 38 scientific and professional societies representing more than 180,000 member scientists. Its mission is to identify food and fiber, environmental, and other agricultural issues and to interpret related scientific research information for legislators, regulators, and the media for use in public policy decision making. More information on CAST and its numerous scientific reports are available at http://www.cast-science.org. Copies of the reports, including Estrogenicity and Endocrine Disruption, are available from CAST at (515) 292-2125 or by e-mail at cast@cast-science.org.