This new science is giving us design signals. It’s telling us we’ve selected molecules that cause things we don’t want. Well, our challenge today is figuring out what we want and designing materials and products to give us the services we need without the unintended consequences. That’s the challenge.
If you step back and look at the overall picture, what it looks like is this. We’ve synthesized some chemicals and put them into products and processes that have led to wide spread exposure and some of these chemicals are capable of changing gene expression, capable of altering development, capable of interfering with behavior with immune function, with fertility, capable of causing a range of diseases. We’ve done that for the last 50 years without being aware of what we were doing. Now we’re learning.
We’re learning that a range of today’s epidemics have varying degrees of lengths, scientific lengths to exposures. Exposures during development especially, in the womb especially. That’s unsettling news. We’ve come to love some of the products that now are biting us unexpectedly. That’s unsettling. It’s, to some degree, disabling. It’s a message, at least of first bush of despair. What do we do? I actually derive huge energy for this reason. What this science is doing is telling us that we can prevent diseases today that we had no idea ten years ago were preventable. That’s really exciting
This new science is giving us design signals. It’s telling us we’ve selected molecules that cause things we don’t want. Well, our challenge today is figuring out what we want and designing materials and products to give us the services we need without the unintended consequences. That’s the challenge. And we’re moving there. There’s this remarkable field developing. It doesn’t have all the answers. It’s definitely not there. It’s called Green Chemistry. It does things like this. It looks at what’s the problem with Bisphenol A and polycarbonate? It’s got two problems. One is that the Bisphenol A molecule interacts with the estrogen receptor and causes changes in gene expression that you don’t want. So that’s one problem with Bisphenol A. The other is that polycarbonate itself, which is made of molecules, Bisphenol A molecules combined, it’s the bond that bind it are weak so that it degrades. Well Green Chemistry looks at this problem and says lets try two different things. Let’s have a different molecule that because of its structure can’t interact with the estrogen receptor. And then let’s also develop a polymer that uses stronger bonds so that they don’t degrade.
Well we actually know of some materials, polycell foam being one. We know of some materials and there are Green Chemists actively at work on inventing new ones that will, they’re trying to work around those design flaws of polycarbonate plastic. And what’s going to happen, actually I’m very confident that this is going to happen, those materials are there, they’re going to be more synthesized and created, and entrepreneurs are going to realize they can make money by producing a bottle that holds water or a reason that lines food cans that does the same thing that Bisphenol A does today but that doesn’t cause the health problems that are associated with Bisphenol A. And they’re going to make a lot of money. And they’re going to put the people who insist on producing Bisphenol A out of business. Now that’s a dynamic in our economy that we can make work to our advantage, to peoples advantage, to our health’s advantage. And it’s going to happen as Green Chemists make these advances and entrepreneurs respond to the opportunities that those advances create.