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Analysis reveals unlawful action by EU Commission on hormone-disrupting chemicals

New expert analysis has revealed illegal action by the European Commission in relaxing rules on the use of hormone-disrupting chemicals in pesticides.

Two expert legal analyses published today by the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and ClientEarth show that the European Commission went beyond its power, voiding the decision of the EU Parliament and Council to ban dangerous endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from being used in pesticides.

EDCs disrupt the hormone system in humans and animals. They have very serious effects even at low doses, ranging from cancer to the deterioration of male fertility, and can disrupt human brain development.

In 2009, the European Parliament and Council banned EDCs from pesticides, but lacked criteria to identify what constitutes an EDC. The Commission was given a mandate to solve this problem. In the first week of October, the European Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve the Commission’s proposed criteria for identifying EDCs in its pesticide regulation.

Both legal analyses conclude the criteria proposed by the Commission go well beyond the power it was granted and threaten the original EDC ban.

“The Commission has clearly exceeded the limits of the power it was given by the Parliament and Council,” says ClientEarth chemicals lawyer Dr Apolline Roger. “Despite being well aware of the boundaries, the Commission tries to allow the use of some EDCs as pesticides – this exemption from the ban is contradicts the will of the democratically elected Parliament and of the Council.”

CIEL’s analysis also highlights that the exemption created in the proposed criteria enables the use of substances specifically designed to disrupt the endocrine system.

“The pesticides regulation banning endocrine disruptors aims to protect the health and environment of current and future generations of EU residents”, says Giulia Carlini, Staff Attorney at CIEL. “The Commission’s proposal to exempt certain EDCs is an unlawful gift to the pesticide industry that sacrifices public health and enables continued environmental exposure to endocrine disruptors.”

The European Parliament’s imminent vote is the final step before the EDC identification criteria are adopted and implemented in the pesticides regulation. Both CIEL and ClientEarth urge MEPs to veto the proposal to protect their democratic power, public health, and the planet.

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Gemma Underwood

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