E.U. to Identify Endocrine Disrupters in Pesticides

The proposed criteria for seeking out the chemicals were criticized by a number of groups, including scientific societies and environmental advocates.

By | July 6, 2017

ISTOCK, BALEFIRE9On Tuesday (July 4), member state representatives of the European Union (E.U.) approved a list of criteria put forth by the European Commission to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in plant pesticides.

“Once implemented, the text will ensure that any active substance used in pesticides which is identified as an endocrine disruptor for people or animals can be assessed and withdrawn from the market,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a statement.

Despite the European Commission’s claims that this would be a major step forward in protecting both citizens’ health and the environment, the proposed criteria were criticized by various groups, including environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and scientific societies. The critics cited a number of issues, including the high burden of proof required to identify substances as EDCs.

In June, three major scientific societies, the Endocrine Society, the European Society of Endocrinology, and the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology, released a joint statement expressing concern with the European Commission’s proposed criteria. “The criteria, as currently constructed, will likely fail to identify [EDCs] that are currently causing human harm, and will not secure a high level of health and environment protection as required per the Treaty on the European Union,” they wrote. “Furthermore, the criteria contain arbitrary exemptions for chemicals specifically designed to disrupt target insect endocrine systems that have similarities to systems in wildlife and humans.”

More than 400,000 individuals have signed a petition to urge the EU governments to reject the proposal. 

“The European Parliament and Council now have three months to oppose to the criteria,” Giulia Carlini, staff attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, says in a statement. “If they are serious about protecting people and the environment from dangerous EDC exposure, they should do so.”

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