Expert scientists from most EU countries today approved the European Commission’s proposed criteria to identify which pesticide chemicals may be hormone disruptors. These criteria threaten human health and the environment and – because they overstep the Commission’s powers – are illegal.
These criteria were supposed to be purely scientific, to define what evidence is necessary to identify a chemical as an endocrine disruptor. However, the debate became political because the pesticides industry refused to accept the existing ban of endocrine disruptors in their products under the Pesticides Regulation.
After a year of negotiations, Member States caved in. The criteria – despite changes – still impose a too hard-to-meet burden of proof. They are also unclear, which means there will be more debates what they actually mean and thus more delays in banning these chemicals in pesticides and elsewhere.
ClientEarth lawyer Alice Bernard said: “These EDC criteria were supposed to be grounded in science, and to identify which chemicals are hormone disrupting. Instead, the criteria let industry ‘de-identify’ a chemical as endocrine disruptor, if, for example, it is a pesticide that is meant to be an endocrine disruptor for targeted species.
“This allows businesses to use and sell endocrine disrupting pesticides in contradiction with the ban established by the European Parliament and the Council in 2009. In other words, the Commission is exceeding its legal mandate. We call on the European Parliament to veto these criteria, to protect people and the planet.”
What is more, these criteria were designed to identify endocrine disruptors in pesticides only. By failing to propose criteria which would be applicable across all sectors – from cosmetics to toy manufacturing and more – today’s vote creates a silo approach.
This will further delay action to protect human health and the environment against hormone-disrupting chemicals, and breach the obligation of the EU to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment. This is also in contradiction with the 7th Environment Action Programme.