The bottom line
central point of the Our Stolen Future is that some man-made
chemicals interfere with the body's own hormones. These compounds
find their way into our bodies through a variety of pathways. They
build up over time, often over years.
a woman becomes pregnant, some fraction of her contaminant burden
is transferred to the fetus. When this happens they interfere with
the hormonal signals directing development and thus disrupt fetal
growth. Sometimes the effects are conspicuous, sometimes they are
of these chemicals alter sexual development. Some undermine intelligence
and behavior. Others make our bodies less resistant to disease.
Sometimes the effects don't appear until a child reaches puberty
or afterward, even though the exposure took place in the womb.
chemicals pose the greatest hazard in the earliest phases of life
because hormones orchestrate development and because fetal development
is exquisitely sensitive to tiny variations in hormone signals.
For a fetus to grow up according to its genetic blueprint, the right
hormone message has to arrive at the right place in the right amount
at the right time.
emerging science we present in Our Stolen Future is about
what happens when something interferes with the delivery of that
message. A signal doesn't arrive because it is blocked. One that
was small becomes large. One that shouldn't have been there at all
shows up nonetheless.
first nine chapters of the book examine a chain of evidence that
extends from wildlife populations to laboratory experiments to the
epidemiology of exposed groups of people. There's not a lot in these
sections that is controversial.
are working from a data base of over 4,000 scientific
publications. Over 100 scientists have participated directly
in deliberations that have produced a series of consensus statements
about the nature of the problem. Many scientists reviewed their
sections of the book word-by-word to ensure that we did not misrepresent
their findings. This is not fringe science.
we examine in Our Stolen Future the basic science from wildlife,
lab animals and relevant human studies we then ask a larger set
have stopped before this. We knew that going on would be controversial.
But as we thought about the implications of these basic findings and
their potential ramifications, we concluded that the only responsible
course was to go on and find out what science was able, and not able
to say, given the current evidence.
the the uncontested observations that endocrine contaminants are
given that at least in some places in the world those background
levels of contamination are within the ranges in which effects
are seen in the laboratory and in people.
all that, what signals should we look for in human populations?
you have read this section, you will find it replete with all sorts
of cautionary statements, with many comments to the effect that
data on one issue or another are as yet inadequate to reach a judgement.
In sum, however, the weight of the evidence says we have a problem.
Human impacts beyond isolated cases are already demonstrable. They
involve impairments to reproduction, alterations in behavior, diminishment
of intellectual capacity, and erosion in the ability to resist disease.
The simple truth is that the way we allow chemicals to be used in
society today means we are performing a vast experiment, not in
the lab, but in the real world, not just on wildlife but on people.