Accepted Paper:

Life at Risk: the EDC-MixRisk Project and the Reconfiguration of Risk across Societal, Epidemiological and Molecular Scales  


Giuseppe Testa (European Institute of Oncology / University of Milan)
Nadav Even Chorev (European Institute of Oncology)

Paper short abstract:

We present the first results of the H2020 EDC-MixRisk project that integrates STS into a research design aimed at defining, through the integration of epidemiology with expeirmental biology, policy-relevant thresholds for endocrine disruptive chemicals, a class of compounds at the peak of public salience.

Paper long abstract:

Exposure to human-made chemicals has become a ubiquitous feature of contemporary life. In recent years, a class of chemicals that interferes with the endocrine system, known as Endocrine-Disruptive Compounds (ECDs), has risen to public attention due to accumulating evidence of their critical causative role in major metabolic and neurodevelopmental disorders, triggering widespread efforts for regulating their circulation on a societal scale.

Here we present the first outcomes of the Horizon2020-funded EDC-MixRisk project that integrates STS and policy scholarship into a research design aimed at defining policy-relevant EDC-dependent risk thresholds. To this end, the project integrates the largest epidemiological cohorts targeting EDC-related adverse health outcomes with molecular studies on the impact of EDC in innovative experimental models, including human cortical organoids.

From an STS perspective, particularly within a bio-objectification framework, the project design reconfigures life as constantly 'at EDC risk', by operationalizing 'life at risk' at all scales from the governmental to the societal to the cellular and molecular. Specifically, in this paper we combine theoretical groundwork and preliminary empirical data to show how the definition of EDC risk thresholds emerges from the convergence of epidemiological and molecular studies, investigating the epistemic assumptions, regulatory constraints and evidence negotiations through which distinct disciplines interact in the definition and systematization of EDC-relevant bio-objects. In turn, this analysis adds to the current notion of bio-objects as both socially and materially ordered entities that blur entrenched dichotomies, by highlighting the differential impact of distinct epistemic and political scales on the practices of bio-objectification.

Panel T034
Revisiting bio-objects and bio-objectification: Categories, materialities and processes central to the (re)configuration of "life".