Endocrine Disruption

The possibility that a number of chemicals discharged into the environment as a result of human activity may disrupt the endocrine system of a wide range of mammals has recently been given considerable prominence. Among the chemicals cited are the organochlorine pesticides, most of which have now been withdrawn for other reasons. While there is no doubt that there are a significant number of cases of endocrine disruption, the evidence to point to any particular chemical as a cause is lacking. It is also worth noting that deliberate endocrine disruption is a mechanism of a number of natural insecticides which act so as to inhibit development of juvenile larvae to adults. Fortunately these pesticides are reactive and usually have a short life in the field.

It is also true that there are very many naturally occurring endocrine disruptors, including the phytoestrogens present in vegetables, notably soya beans, peas, beans, cabbage, and hops. However, since this issue is very serious a considerable amount of work has now been initiated and its results will have implications for future testing of pesticides.

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