Jytte Guteland on Endocrine Disruptors

05/10/2017
Jytte Guteland on Endocrine Disruptors
Environment, health, agriculture & fisheries

Today the S&D Group won an important battle for European citizens’ health, despite opposition from conservative MEPs in the European Parliament and strong lobbying from pesticide multinationals.

05/10/2017

Today the S&D Group won an important battle for European citizens’ health, despite opposition from conservative MEPs in the European Parliament and strong lobbying from pesticide multinationals. A proposal by the European Commission on endocrine disruptors, which would have excluded certain harmful pesticides from the general ban on endocrine-disrupting substances, was rejected. Now the Commission will have to present a new proposal taking into account our health and environmental concerns.

Endocrine disruptors are substances that interfere with human hormones. We are all exposed to them on a daily basis through products such as food packaging, clothing, cosmetics or food. This is why the S&D Group has been calling for several years for specific measures to prevent these substances causing any harm.
In July the Commission finally presented a proposal to set out scientific criteria for identifying endocrine-disrupting properties. However, this proposal includes a derogation* for certain potentially harmful pesticides. This is why today the S&Ds led a parliamentary vote to reject the Commission’s proposal.

S&D spokesperson on health and environment, Miriam Dalli MEP, said:

“The European Parliament has the right of scrutiny and it has a duty to object every time the European Commission goes beyond the limit of its regulatory power. This is a clear case where the European Commission exceeded the mandate granted to it by the European Parliament and the Council when it went back on the co-legislators’ decision to introduce a strict ban on endocrine-disrupting pesticides.

“This derogation is simply a loophole to appease the pesticide industry. It is the European Union’s duty to protect public health and when the push for profits endangers public health then we need to stand up and take a strong position – as we are doing.”

S&D spokesperson on endocrine disruptors, Jytte Guteland MEP, said:

“The European Parliament has today stood up for people’s health and the environment. The Commission’s proposal failed to guarantee sufficient protection from these chemicals and was not legally sound. The European Parliament and the Council have already clearly decided to ban all endocrine disruptors. The Commission was only mandated to set scientific criteria to identify the endocrine-disrupting substances, nothing more. Instead, it decided to include a derogation for certain substances, thereby creating a huge loophole in the legislation. The Commission will now have to come back with a proposal without this derogation. 

“In order to properly address all the health concerns linked to endocrine-disrupting substances it is of the utmost importance that we establish horizontal criteria to identify endocrine disrupters so that these can be applied across all sectors and not only for the pesticides and biocides. Otherwise the health of our citizens will only partly be protected. We expect the Commission to understand that and act without delay.”

* Note to editors

The proposed derogation would essentially mean that a substance that deliberately works on a target organism (an insect considered to be a pest) via the endocrine system is actually not meant to be classified as an endocrine-disrupting substance with respect to non-target organisms (all other insects which are not the target of the pesticide but will be affected by it as they are in the same environment).

In practice, the Commission’s proposal means that living beings belonging to the same classification group (so-called taxonomic phylum, in this case ‘arthropods’) as targeted insects (considered to be pests) that can be affected by endocrine disruptors because they have hormonal systems, would be categorised in this case as non-target organisms whereby the substances used would not be considered as having endocrine-disrupting properties on them. So the pesticide used would kill both the target insects and the non-target ones via their endocrine systems