Endocrine Disruptor by Pepper

17 October 2022

PEPPER is a non-profit association (under the French 1901 law) and a public-private platform dedicated to the pre-validation of endocrine disruptors characterization methods. It is supported by the French “Programme of Investments for the Future” (PIA), government departments and industry associations. PEPPER’s mission is to organize and fund scientific research and testing in order to obtain the proofs required by the authorities in charge of international validation (OECD, ECVAM, ISO). Hence the word “pre-validation”.

The idea first emerged in 2014, with the first National Strategy for Endocrine Disruptors in France – a first worldwide. PEPPER was then launched alongside the second French National strategy. Several elements have led to the creation of our organisation, the first of its kind in Europe.


Endocrine disruptors are an important and multifaceted societal issue, with scientific, regulatory, economic, risk management and innovation management debates; debates which feature multiple and divergent opinions and analysis.

A long path from scientific to regulatory definition

The words « endocrine disruptor » (ED) were first mentioned by zoologist Theo Colborn on 28th July 1991 in a scientific gathering in Wingspread (USA). The notion derives from observations on animal species (birds, alligators, molluscs, fish) and their exposure through their environment ; these discussions have been linked to observations on women exposed to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) and their descendants, leading to the progressive emergence of a new environmental and public health issue.

The WHO definition was established in 2002, updated in 2012 and used by the European Union in 2017:

“An endocrine disruptor is an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations.”

The words in this definition reflect the controversies at stake: the WHO does not refer to substances which “interact with” but which “alter” the endocrine system, nor does it refer to “effects” but to “adverse effects”. There are indeed numerous substances, physical agents or even psychological stress factors which interact with the endocrine system without necessarily causing any adverse effect.

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