Propose a regulation against toxins to later create “holes” or gaps in that legislation is a common practice in Europe, which allows toxic substances to escape the prohibition and put in serious danger the health of the population and the environment.
A clear example of this “lagoon” strategy is the regulation of hormonal pollutants as we denounce from Ecologists in action and organizations such as CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law).
Everything seems to indicate that next week, on the 17th and 18th, Europe could once again implement this strategy and give the green light to the last proposed definition of hormonal pollutants, known this May.
It should be remembered that hormonal pollutants, or endocrine disruptors, are synthetic substances present in pesticides, in hygiene and cosmetic products, in plastics, furniture and even clothing, which are related to health damages such as breast cancer, prostate cancer or thyroid, damage to children’s brain development, loss of fertility or type 2 diabetes, among others.
Next week, the representatives of the Member States will meet again in the ScoPAFF Committee (Plants, Animals, Food and Feed) to decide on this latest proposal, which is very similar to those presented in December and February.
At least, in this last proposal, the Commission has introduced two of the demands of the NGOs:
It allows a classification of endocrine disruptors, between “known” and “presumable”.
It reviews the exemption of the substances that allowed those pesticides whose mode of action was, precisely, to alter the endocrine system even if they damaged other species of the same division, not to be considered as endocrine disruptors. This exemption (another legal hole) allowed a pesticide designed to kill mosquitoes that affected the hormonal system of bees, was not considered endocrine disruptor. Now, the proposal requires that substances with this mode of action can only be approved if a risk assessment shows that their use does not produce unacceptable effects on non-target organisms.
According to the previous proposal, an insecticide created to kill mosquitoes could alter the endocrine system of 80% of live animals (arthropods) without being considered an endocrine disruptor.
Apart from these improvements, the new proposal continues to ask for an excessive level of proof to consider that a substance is a hormonal pollutant, which does not require other substances such as carcinogens for example. It also allows too many ways to disqualify the adverse effects observed in animal studies. These are two ways to get many toxins to “escape” from the definition.
To carry out this proposal, the Commission needs a qualified majority of Member States and it may be that the political change produced in France, habitual opposition to the proposal, will help achieve this majority. Spain, which initially opposed the proposal as insufficient, has come to support it.
In conclusion, everything seems to indicate that next week the European Commission will give the green light to a proposal that will leave pesticide regulations ineffective and with so many holes that, in practice, will not ban almost any substance that alters the hormonal system.
This way of acting of the European Commission directly affects the health and safety of the current population and future generations, in addition to affecting our environment. We must continue to demand that the rights of citizenship be respected above the benefits of large corporations.