European officials accused of downplaying dangers of pesticides
Legal wrangling over hazardous pesticides – such as the recent lawsuit against the maker of Roundup – are not limited to the United States. The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) is accusing senior European Commission officials of behind-the-scenes machinations that are enabling dangerous pesticides to continue being sold on the European market.
That the officials are watering down the criteria used for defining endocrine disruptors “is revealed in more than 600 confidential documents obtained by the NGO Pesticide Action Network (PAN) after two years of legal proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union,” according to the ETUI.
Hazardous active ingredients such as carcinogens, mutagens, reprotoxic substances and endocrine disruptors are banned under the European Pesticides Regulation. Criteria for defining endocrine disruptors were adopted in the legal text in April 2018. However, the ETUI says confidential documents obtained by PAN show that senior Commission officials “knowingly gave precedence to the commercial interests of pesticide manufacturers over public health. Over and above the five-year delay, the documents show that unscrupulous officials also managed to get a ‘softer’ version of the identification criteria adopted, de facto allowing pesticides belonging to the family of endocrine disruptors to continue to be marketed instead of being withdrawn from the European market.”
In 2015, a first report of the Pesticide Action Network highlighted the role of the pesticides lobby within the European Commission in influencing the regulation of endocrine disruptors.
Senior ETUI researcher Tony Musu, co-author of a publication on the occupational risks linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors, said the new revelations “confirm that the identification criteria adopted in 2018 were biased and that they urgently need to be revised to better protect the health of farmers, citizens and the environment.”
However, the European Commission denies any concrete aim to manipulate matters, defending its decision to go ahead with an impact assessment before drafting criteria for defining endocrine disruptors, thereby contributing to the delay in regulation denounced by PAN.
The scientific community increasingly considers endocrine disruptors to be responsible for the surge in certain diseases, including obesity, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, autism and certain hormonal cancers.
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