What knowledgeable scientists had to say about Easterbrook's article:

To the Editor of The New Republic:

As members of the National Research Council panel on endocrine disruptors we read Easterbrook's gross mischaracterization of this issue ("Science Fiction," 30 August) with considerable dismay. The tone and content of his commentary suggest a basic unfamiliarity with the scientific concepts involved and indicate he has not read the report on which he comments.

He states, for example, that "The NRC declared the theory of endocrine disrupters "rife with uncertainties" possibly true but unsupported by experiments or health data." In fact, the theory of endocrine disruption rests on hundreds of laboratory experiments that demonstrate, in fetal mammals and other vertebrates, an exquisite sensitivity to hormone disrupting compounds that can cause profound errors in development.

Epidemiological evidence from human studies show several trends in health data that are consistent with predictions based on these experiments with animals and the mechanisms of endocrine disruption. Unfortunately, the crucial studies to determine with scientific certainty whether those human health effects are caused by endocrine disruption have not been done. This is why the panel so strongly recommended an aggressive research agenda.

To characterize endocrine disrupting chemicals as an unlikely health threat, as Easterbrook does, in light of the evidence reviewed by the NRC panel and before this crucial research is completed is irresponsible and misguided. It also represents a conclusion that not a single scientist on the NRC panel was willing to make.


Louis F. Guillette, Ph.D.
Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D.
Ana Soto, Ph.D.
Shanna Swan, Ph.D.

National Research Council Committee on Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment