In the three decades since endocrine disruption was conceptualized at the Wingspread Conference, we have witnessed the growth of this multidisciplinary field and the accumulation of evidence showing the deleterious health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. It is only within the past decade that, albeit slowly, some changes regarding regulatory measures have taken place. In this Perspective, we address some historical points regarding the advent of the endocrine disruption field and the conceptual changes that endocrine disruption brought about. We also provide our personal recollection of the events triggered by our serendipitous discovery of oestrogenic activity in plastic, a founder event in the field of endocrine disruption. This recollection ends with the CLARITY study as an example of a discordance between ‘science for its own sake’ and ‘regulatory science’ and leads us to offer a perspective that could be summarized by the motto attributed to Ludwig Boltzmann: “Nothing is more practical than a good theory”.
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We thank V. Bouffard for her insightful reading of this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge support by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grants ES030045 and ES026283). The funders had no role in the content of this article, and it does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.
A.M.S. and C.S. have received travel reimbursements from universities, governments, non-governmental agencies and industry to speak about endocrine-disrupting chemicals. A.M.S. serves ad honorem/pro bono on two scientific advisory boards. C.M.S. declares no competing interests.
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Soto, A.M., Schaeberle, C.M. & Sonnenschein, C. From Wingspread to CLARITY: a personal trajectory. Nat Rev Endocrinol 17, 247–256 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-020-00460-3