World Wildlife FundAction Center

Activists Push for Endocrine Disruptor Legislation and Help Boost Funding for Research

 beluga whales

For more than a decade, World Wildlife Fund has been calling the world's attention to chemicals that interfere with reproduction, reduce resistance to disease, and change behavior in wildlife and humans. Known as "endocrine disruptors" because they disrupt the functioning of hormone systems, these widespread synthetic chemicals have been building up in wildlife and humans, even in the most remote populations of marine animals, polar bears, and other wildlife. At the same time, there have been worrisome increases in human cancers, children's diseases, and other health disorders to which these chemicals may contribute.

Sadly, despite progress in recent years in reducing threats from various chemicals in our air and water, we still know very little about the health and environmental effects of most of the chemicals that surround us. What we don't know could be hurting generations of wildlife and people.

Fortunately, WWF activists have been pushing hard for funding and legislation to increase our understanding of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The information gleaned can reduce threats to wildlife, help citizens avoid dangerous chemicals in household products, encourage companies to make their products safer, and prevent serious health effects in our children.

Upsurge in Support for Endocrine Disruptor Legislation

Until now, federal government research on hormone disruption has been scattershot and underfunded. Even as evidence about hormone disruption has grown, the public remains largely in the dark about hazards to health and the environment. The Environmental Health Research Act of 2003 would respond to this challenge by providing for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to lead a government-wide research program on hormone disrupting chemicals, and to report to the public on exposures and effects. As of early 2004, the number of cosponsors of the Environmental Health Research Act had jumped from 32 to 74 in the House and from 1 to 5 in the Senate since WWF activists began speaking out in support of this bill.

Funding Approved for Fiscal Year 2002 for Endocrine Disruptor Research

Conservation Action Network activists won an important victory when President Bush signed into law a bill providing $20.3 million-the full amount advocated by Conservation Action Network activists-for fiscal year 2002 for critically important programs to screen, test, and study the harmful effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. The final bill includes special language that ensures that the portion of the funding for screening and testing of these chemicals cannot be redirected to other programs.

The more than 13,000 messages that Conservation Action Network activists sent to Capitol Hill helped convince Congress to support the funding. WWF has worked for three years to provide significant funding for endocrine disruptor programs. One way we help build support is to ask members of Congress to sign a joint letter to their colleagues urging them to vote for the funds. In 2001 we gathered a record number of signatures to that letter, thanks in part to your support.

Learn more about WWF's work to understand and control endocrine disruptors. 

Past Action Alerts
Protect Wildlife and People from Hazardous Chemicals - 9/9/2003
Protect Wildlife and People From Toxic Chemicals --6/5/2001