Lessons from yesterday, visions f0r t0morrow
Theo Colborn Chapter Excerpt
Dr. Theo Colborn has written and lectured widely on the human health and environmental threat posed by endocrine disruptors and other industrially-produced chemicals at low concentrations in the environment. Dr. Colborn serves as the President of TEDX and holds the academic rank of Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
"...Colborn's capacity for a different kind of focus- staying trained on what compels her, even in the face of obstacles has served her from those early years and led her some 60 years later to recognize evidence that spawned a new discipline that rocked scientific, public health, and environmental worlds: the science of endocrine disruption..."
"...Colborn recalls the shock and excitement and dread of these discoveries: 'Just then we were getting the information about the prenatal exposure, the transgenerational exposure that we saw in the wildlife, and Rich Liroff, Senior Fellow at WWF came into my office and said, 'What's this?'...It was just this little matrix. And he went running down the call saying, 'Oh my God, look at what we've got!' It was a sudden realization that, oh, my gosh, what are we seeing happening to our children?...What that told us was that a lot of chemicals had slipped through the safety net. The risk assessment approach that we had been using was all wrong. And toxicology had failed us..."
"The answers to Colborn's questions about endocrine disruptors brought her, in time, to having opinions on public policy matters. She is neither equivocal nor shy about those opinions, which are informed by science and by her moral indignation that corporations have, essentially, been allowed to experiment on animal species, on humans, and perhaps most unconscionable in her mind, on babies and the unborn. About her role in the discovery of endocrine disruption, she says, 'It's a whole new way of looking at things. And this led to vast new discoveries about wildlife and human development and function, and basically, that's what happened when I brought the scientists together... I used to sit in Washington and say, why me?...you know, I don't have a reputation. People don't know who I am...and of course I was extremely naive. When I went to Washington, I didn't know the difference between a conservative and a liberal." Her non-partisan nature lent credibility to her work. But the most important litmus of endocrine disruption's acceptance has been the rigor of her science: Colborn corralled high-quality research from many disciplines to support her hypothesis, taking special pains to eliminate from her evidence any studies with methodological weaknesses. Her conclusions are grounded in data, and her style is not inflammatory, but reasoned. Aim though her critics might, she doesn't present much in the way of an Achilles' heel..."