Call for gender
Scientists have called on European leaders to take urgent action to speed up regulation of the thousands of gender-bending chemicals in use across the continent. The harmful effects of these chemicals, called endocrine disrupters, have been a growing concern in recent years but today’s move will be the first time that the scientific community has raised its concerns with both politicians and the public at large. The Prague Declaration, named after a meeting of more than 100 toxicologists and chemists in the Czech republic last month, and due to be launched today in Brussels, will state that forthcoming legislation on the safe use of chemicals does not go far enough, and that lack of scientific evidence of the harmful effects of these chemicals must not delay political action. “Many of these chemicals affect development in the womb,” said Andreas Kortenkamp, a toxicologist and one of the signatories of the Prague Declaration. Endocrine disrupters are a diverse group of several thousands of chemicals — such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins — used in everything from pesticides to flame retardants, cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. Some of them alter the function of hormones
in animals, either blocking their normal action or interfering with how they are made in the body. Since hormones regulate things like growth and body development, the potential for damage is clear. The link between these chemicals and detrimental effects in wildlife is well-established: pseudo-hermaphrodite polar bears with penis-like stumps, panthers with atrophied testicles and male trout with eggs growing in their testes have all been documented.