Session 6 Chair: John Colbourne
Professor John Colbourne
University of Birmingham
Overview for Session: The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025 – a startling prediction that raises the urgency of regulatory science to levels inconceivable for other disciplines.Technological innovations offer unprecedented opportunities to better understand cause and effects in regards to the thousands of existing and emerging chemical compounds that enter into the environment.However, a significant scientific challenge stems from the scale of the task of protecting our waters, and from the magnitude of the knowledge gap. For example, the chemical and/or ecological status of 99% of the 46,797 rivers and lakes in China is not fully monitored, despite the central government passing its first amendments to the country’s environmental protection law in 25 years aimed to better protect environmental health. Moreover, <10% of 143,835 registered chemicals that are released in the environment have been adequately tested for their toxicity, always as single compounds, and seldom at environmentally relevant concentrations, because current methods of risk assessment (developed between 1930 and 1970) are costly, slow, and often unsuitable for cause-effect modelling. New approaches are required to build upon recent discoveries being made on the diversity of molecular interactions among elements of the genome that signal stress responses of organisms to environmental conditions.