USA: Government agency is dangerously close to business

 

small business jpeg

A US government agency intended to assist small businesses is instead operating as an unquestioning promoter of a deadly business lobby wishlist. A report from the independent Center for Effective Government says the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy is supposed to ensure that federal agencies evaluate the small business impacts of the rules they adopt. Instead it has been weighing in on issues including scientific assessments of the cancer risks of formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium.

But instead of scrutinising the evidence, it has just regurgitated industry briefings. The Centre says by the Office of Advocacy’s own admission, it lacks the scientific expertise to evaluate the merits of these scientific assessments. “We found that the Office of Advocacy’s comments on these assessments raised no issues of specific concern to small business and relied almost exclusively on talking points provided by trade associations dominated by big chemical companies.

Between 2005 and 2012, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its members spent over $333 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies on, among other things, a protracted campaign to prevent government agencies from designating formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium as carcinogens.The Formaldehyde Council, Styrene Industry Research Council, and Chrome Coalition spent millions more.

These groups asked the Office of Advocacy for assistance, and the Office became their willing partner.” According to the Center: “We conclude that the Office of Advocacy’s decision to comment on scientific assessments of the cancer risks of certain chemicals constitutes a significant and unwarranted expansion of its role and reach beyond its statutory responsibilities. We recommend that Congress ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the Office of Advocacy and exert more rigorous oversight of its activities to ensure its work does not undermine the efforts of other federal agencies to fulfil the goals Congress has assigned them.” (by Rory O’Neill www.hazards.org)

 Center for Effective Government news release and report: Small businesses, public health, and scientific integrity: Whose interests does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration serve?

Pink Ribbons, Inc. Screening and Panel Discussion for International Women’s Day

BY ANA PORROCHE-ESCUDERO, ON JANUARY 29TH, 2013 – posted on Breast Cancer Consortium Website originally.

Breast cancer campaigns are all around us. Events from marathons to bake sales are regularly organized to raise money for breast cancer programs and charities. More and more companies now have ‘pink ribbon products’ – teddy bears, perfume, and bras to name very few – with sales that allegedly result in a donation to charities. Who is really benefiting from all this pink paraphernalia? Where is the truth about women’s health and well-being in the breast cancer discourse that accompanies the fundraising? What about women’s rights to accurate and comprehensive information about their health and treatment options? Who is responsible for keeping the pink ribbon machinery alive? And who is responsible for regulating it? These are the questions we will contemplate on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 following a screening of the the powerful and thought-provoking documentary film Pink Ribbons, Inc.

The NGender Seminar Series at the University of Sussex has has teamed up with Breast Cancer Consortium member Dr. Ana Porroche-Escudero (University of Sussex) and Dr. Grazia de Michelle to co-host a special session on Breast Cancer Awareness to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event will involve the screening of Pink Ribbons, Inc. followed by questions and answers between the public and an expert panel. Confirmed speakers are Helen Lynn (Facilitator at Alliance for Cancer Prevention) and Dr Grazia de Michelle (breast cancer patient and advocate). Professor Gillian Bendelow (University of Sussex) will chair the session. Stay tuned for updates about the venue and confirmed panelists.

The goal of the event is to spur discussion and raise consciousness about the system-wide factors that impact breast cancer as an individual experience, a social problem, and a health epidemic. The “cult of pink kitsch” common in mainstream breast cancer campaigns has been criticized, for example, for promoting a message of cheerful celebration and the false impression that the fight against breast cancer is being won. This approach has led to billions of dollars being siphoned into branding and funding campaigns that exaggerate the preventive and therapeutic effects of screening, genetic testing, treatments, breast self-examination and everyday control of one’s lifestyle, despite the fact that health professionals have strongly challenged the efficacy of these techniques. Likewise, the link between breast cancer and everyday exposures to toxins and hormone disruptors at home and at work are conveniently ignored. Many campaigns also obscure the realities of breast cancer, choosing instead to focus on the fun and sexy awareness motif that has gained popularity in recent years. Billions of dollars every year are raised in the name of breast cancer, but  more and more women are diagnosed with the disease each year (including increasing rates of younger women); tens of thousands of women and hundreds of men continue to die each year from metastatic (stage IV disease); breast cancer recurrence remains a staggering impediment to survivorship; and, even with incremental improvements in breast cancer treatment Dr. Susan Love MD’s characterization of the “slashburn, and poison” approach to breast cancer as the contemporary norm suggests a serious lag in medical progress.

This event is funded by the University of Sussex Doctoral School Researcher Led Initiave Fund.

Read a Breast Cancer Consortium Review of the documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. by Helen Lynn and an Breast Cancer Consortium Interview with Dr. Samantha King, author of the book upon which the film is based.

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Occupational breast cancer, a much neglected gender issue

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

Press release
Embargo until 00.01 Friday 7th December 2012

Occupational breast cancer, a much neglected gender issue

London, UK (December 7th 2012)

New research has serious implications for elevated rates of breast cancer and reproductive disorders among women working in the plastics industry in the UK. (1) The paper published in the journal New Solutions supports recent findings by the Canadian researchers, Dr Jim Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith. Their epidemiological study found a five-fold elevated breast cancer risk for pre-menopausal women working in the plastics industry in Canada. (2)

The New Solutions study, carried out in association with the University of Stirling, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, did a review of the toxicology, epidemiology, industrial hygiene literatures in conjunction with qualitative research looking at occupational exposures for the plastics industry’s largely female workforce.

The review revealed the body burdens of women working in the industry have much higher levels of hormone disrupting chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, styrene and acrylonitrile than the general population.  These chemicals are all used in plastics production and some can leach out of the products over time, further affecting women and children’s health.

But the real impact on women workers in the UK is harder to assess.  For the 200,000 workers reported by Professor Andrew Watterson to be working in the UK plastics industry, there is no available data break down by gender. (3) Given the serious implications for women workers highlighted in this research, this further illustrates the serious lack of attention and consideration paid to women’s occupational health in the UK.  There is also obvious significance for other sectors where women work with BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Breast cancer rates in the UK have risen by 90% over the thirty year period 1971 – 2010 according to the ONS. (4) Yet occupational and environmental exposures are continually left out of the picture when risk factors are addressed.

The alliance believes a tipping point has been reached with the growing and compelling body of evidence linking breast cancer to life-time and pre-birth exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Failure to act now is to consign women to face elevated breast risk by working in environments where they are exposed daily to a cocktail of carcinogenic, mutagenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals manufacturing products for consumption. This is just not acceptable.

Current EU work on reviewing the strategy and criteria for identifying ED chemicals and substances needs to be informed by this research and take into account women’s workplace exposures. (5)

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention thinks that this is not just an occupational issue, it is a social issue and a public health issue but predominantly it should be a gender issue. We need to get better at making the connections between environmental, occupational and social issues.

While there has been considerable progress in eliminating chemicals like BPA from baby products, the fact remains that women are still being exposed to EDCs in the workplace.  When it comes to EDCs, risk regulation does not protect women workers or future generations. Many women work in the early stages of pregnancy and while breast feeding, unfortunately a women’s body burden can be passed on to the develop foetus and unwittingly through breast milk.

Maybe the issue needs reframing in terms of exposure at work being an unwarranted and preventable assault on women’s bodies that prevents them from reaching the highest attainable standard of health. Through CEDAW, women as workers have an enshrined legal right to protection of their health and safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction. (6)

The take home message for women as workers, citizens and consumers is, there are no safe levels of EDCs.

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

Facilitator Helen Lynn m: 07960 033 687

email: info@allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk
www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

@Cancer_Alliance

Notes to editor

(1)     DeMatteo R, et al. “Chemical Exposures of Women Workers in the Plastics Industry with Particular Reference to Breast Cancer and Reproductive Hazards”. New Solutions, Vol. 22(4) 427-448, 2012

(2)     J. T. Brophy et al., “Breast Cancer Risk in Relation to Occupations with Exposure to Carcinogens and Endocrine Disruptors: A Canadian Case-Control Study,” Environmental Health 11(87) (2012): 1-17, doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-87.

(3)     Chemical exposure at work is putting Scottish plastic workers at risk of breast cancer. Stirling University Press Release.

(4)     Office for National Statistics. Breast Cancer: Incidence, Mortality and Survival, 2010.

(5)     How the European Commission addresses challenges posed by endocrine disruptors. 

(6)     Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against women. (Article 11)  UK ratified the convention in 1986.

(7)     Endocrine disrupting chemicals are substances that alter one or more functions of the endocrine system (the bodies messenger system) and consequently cause adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations. (WHO definition).

(8)     Environmental and occupational risk factors are exposures (either occupational or environmental) through air, soil, or water or direct contact with chemicals or substances which contribute to a cancer outcome by nature of their carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or endocrine disrupting abilities and properties.

Occupational breast cancer, a much neglected gender issue

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

Press release
Embargo until 00.01 Friday 7th December 2012

Occupational breast cancer, a much neglected gender issue

London, UK (December 7th 2012)

New research has serious implications for elevated rates of breast cancer and reproductive disorders among women working in the plastics industry in the UK. (1) The paper published in the journal New Solutions supports recent findings by the Canadian researchers, Dr Jim Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith. Their epidemiological study found a five-fold elevated breast cancer risk for premenopausal women working in the plastics industry in Canada. (2)

The New Solutions study, carried out in association with the University of Stirling, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, did a review of the toxicology, epidemiology, industrial hygiene literatures in conjunction with qualitative research looking at occupational exposures for the plastics industrie’s largely female workforce.

The review revealed the body burdens of women working in the industry have much higher levels of hormone disrupting chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, styrene and acrylonitrile than the general population.  These chemicals are all used in plastics production and some can leach out of the products over time, further affecting women and children’s health.

But the real impact on women workers in the UK is harder to assess.  For the 200,000 workers reported by Professor Andrew Watterson to be working in the UK plastics industry, there is no available data break down by gender. (3) Given the serious implications for women workers highlighted in this research, this further illustrates the serious lack of attention and consideration paid to women’s occupational health in the UK.  There is also obvious significance for other sectors where women work with BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Breast cancer rates in the UK have risen by 90% over the thirty year period 1971 – 2010 according to the ONS. (4) Yet occupational and environmental exposures are continually left out of the picture when risk factors are addressed.

The alliance believes a tipping point has been reached with the growing and compelling body of evidence linking breast cancer to life-time and pre-birth exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Failure to act now is to consign women to face elevated breast risk by working in environments where they are exposed daily to a cocktail of carcinogenic, mutagenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals manufacturing products for consumption. This is just not acceptable.

Current EU work on reviewing the strategy and criteria for identifying ED chemicals and substances needs to be informed by this research and take into account women’s workplace exposures. (5)

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention thinks that this is not just an occupational issue, it is a social issue and a public health issue but predominantly it should be a gender issue. We need to get better at making the connections between environmental, occupational and social issues.

While there has been considerable progress in eliminating chemicals like BPA from baby products, the fact remains that women are still being exposed to EDCs in the workplace.  When it comes to EDCs, risk regulation does not protect women workers or future generations. Many women work in the early stages of pregnancy and while breast feeding, unfortunately a women’s body burden can be passed on to the develop foetus and unwittingly through breast milk.

Maybe the issue needs reframing in terms of exposure at work being an unwarranted and preventable assault on women’s bodies that prevents them from reaching the highest attainable standard of health. Through CEDAW, women as workers have an enshrined legal right to protection of their health and safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction. (6)

The take home message for women as workers, citizens and consumers is, there are no safe levels of EDCs.

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

Facilitator Helen Lynn m: 07960 033 687

email: info@allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk
www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

@Cancer_Alliance

Notes to editor

(1)     DeMatteo R, et al. “Chemical Exposures of Women Workers in the Plastics Industry with Particular Reference to Breast Cancer and Reproductive Hazards”. New Solutions, Vol. 22(4) 427-448, 2012

(2)     J. T. Brophy et al., “Breast Cancer Risk in Relation to Occupations with Exposure to Carcinogens and Endocrine Disruptors: A Canadian Case-Control Study,Environmental Health 11(87) (2012): 1-17, doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-87.

(3)     Chemical exposure at work is putting Scottish plastic workers at risk of breast cancer. Stirling University Press Release.

(4)     Office for National Statistics. Breast Cancer: Incidence, Mortality and Survival, 2010.

(5)     How the European Commission addresses challenges posed by endocrine disruptors. 

(6)     Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against women. (Article 11)  UK ratified the convention in 1986.

(7)     Endocrine disrupting chemicals are substances that alter one or more functions of the endocrine system (the bodies messenger system) and consequently cause adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations. (WHO definition).

(8)     Environmental and occupational risk factors are exposures (either occupational or environmental) through air, soil, or water or direct contact with chemicals or substances which contribute to a cancer outcome by nature of their carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or endocrine disrupting abilities and properties.

Press Release: Dramatic shift from regulation to elimination called for in light of increased occupational breast cancer risk

A dramatic policy switch to eliminate exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) must be the main focus of the EU’s EDC strategy (1) currently being reviewed in order to address the shocking levels of breast cancer caused by work. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention demands a refocus of the EDC strategy in the wake of new research which shows working in certain jobs can elevate women’s breast cancer risk. The international case control study (2),  led by the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Research Group (OEHRG) found that women working for 10 years in jobs classified as highly exposed increased their breast cancer risk by 42 per cent.

Study authors Dr James Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith said of the results: “Diverse and concentrated exposures to carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals in some workplaces can put workers at an increased risk for developing cancer.”

Risk factors were especially high for those pre-menopausal women working in the automotive plastics and food-canning sectors, with up to five times higher risk than those in the control groups. The study looked at cumulative exposure for women which started before menarche, through first full term pregnancy, onto menopause and post menopause.  The occupational sectors studied were farming, plastics, food canning, metal working and bar/casino/racecourses in southern Ontario, Canada. (5)

Professor Andrew Watterson, head of the OEHRG at Stirling University and co-author of the study said: “Many workers face multiple exposures to chemicals, not only from their employment, but from their everyday environment. Many of the women included in the study were exposed to a virtual ‘toxic soup’ of chemicals. Untangling work and wider factors in the possible causes of breast cancer is an important global issue”.

Likely substances forming the ‘toxic soup’ included: pesticides use in farming and food production; plasticisers, flame retardants, phthalates, BPA, styrene, and vinyl chloride used in the automotive plastics industry; second hand tobacco smoke (pre-smoking ban) and shift working in bars and racecourses; and solvents and PAH’s in metal work industries.

Many of these substances are known or suspected carcinogens, mutagens and endocrine disrupting chemicals. (6) Cumulative exposure to EDCs in particular has been implicated in elevated risk for breast and other cancers, reproductive disorders, early puberty, immune system dysfunction, birth defects and neurological effects. EDCs have been shown to act cumulatively, in combination and at extremely low levels.

Helen Lynn, facilitator for the Alliance said: “The situation is no different in Canada than it is in the UK. This is not just an occupational issue, we as consumers are perpetuating the problem. Consigning women to face an increasing breast risk by working in environments where they are exposed daily to a cocktail of carcinogenic, mutagenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals to manufacture products for consumption is just not acceptable. Workplace regulations don’t appear to cover for endocrine disruptors. The UK government and cancer establishment is complacent due to its inaction. Ignorance is bliss and efforts to regulate EDCs and mixtures of EDCs are undermined by a focus on regulating risks instead of taking a hazard based approach to these substances, to which there are no safe levels.”

Talking about the research Dr Keith reflected that study could also have wider implications for society as a whole. We may be exposed to many of these same cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals on a daily basis, albeit likely at much lower levels. The study also points to the need to re-evaluate occupational and environmental exposure standards, keeping in mind that there may be no determinable safe levels to cancer-causing or hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention believes a turning point has been reached with this study, and we must heed the warning.  Lifestyle or genetic factors alone cannot be blamed for the increasing rise in breast cancer. Other factors are at play such as occupational and environmental exposures and we need to include these as risk factors when strategising ways to prevent this disease. No women should have to deal with ever present risk of breast cancer because of the work she does.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention demands an urgent refocus of the EDC strategy to eliminate exposure to EDCs. We call on the UK government to support a hazard’s based approach to identification and assessment of EDCs including mixtures of EDCs across all exposures in the workplace and for the public in general.

Ends

 The Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a multi-stakeholder alliance of trade unions, public health advocates, civil society and environmental NGOs in the UK groups campaigning on cancer prevention with the aim of getting recognition for the environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer. (9)

www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

Prof: Andrew Watterson: 01786 466283 or 07 563 195 904. a.e.watterson@stir.ac.uk
Helen Lynn 07960 033 687 info@allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

Notes to Editor:

  1. EU Commission Strategy for Endocrine Disruptors and Draft report on theProtection of Public Health from Endocrine Disruptors.
  2. Study available to download from here: Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case–control study
  3. Notation: Brophy, J., Keith, M., Watterson, A., Park, R., Gilbertson, M., Maticka-Tyndale, E., Beck, M., Abu-Zahra, H., Schneider, K., Reinhartz, A., DeMatteo, R., & Luginaah, I. (2012). “Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: A Canadian case control study.” Environmental Health. http://www.ehjournal.net
  4. The case control study, involving 1006 women with breast cancer and 1146 without the disease, revealed that women who worked for 10 years in jobs classified as highly exposed increased their breast cancer risk by 42 per cent.
  5. The study found several occupational sectors in which there was elevated breast cancer risk details can be found on the Press release from Stirling University
  6. State of the Art Report of Endocrine Disruptors by Kortenkamp et al. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/endocrine/documents/4_SOTA%20EDC%20Final%20Report%20V3%206%20Feb%2012.pd
  7. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are substances that alter one or more functions of the endocrine system (the bodies messenger system) and consequently cause adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations. (WHO definition).
  8. A summary of the research findings by the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health.
  9. Environmental and occupational risk factors are exposures (either occupational or environmental) through air, soil, or water or direct contact with chemicals or substances which contribute to a cancer outcome by nature of their carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or endocrine disrupting abilities and properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Ribbons, Inc film showing

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – and ‘pink’ is all around. But not everyone is caught up in ‘pink’. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention in conjunction with Tipping Point Film Fund will host a screening of Pink Ribbons Inc – first screened in the UK at Human Rights Watch Film Festival earlier this year – and which delves into the depoliticisation of the breast cancer epidemic and asks serious questions about prevention.

While Pink Ribbons, Inc. doesn’t seek to undermine those who gain hope, strength and a sense of community from pink ribbon fundraising, Lea Pool does ask critical questions about the industry and the pink ribbon brand. She interviews Samantha King, author of the book Pink Ribbons, Inc.

“It wasn’t until Reagan came to power that we saw explicit policies designed to shift responsibility for health and welfare from the government towards private entities, philanthropic organizations, along with the encouragement specifically for corporations to participate in that.” She suggests that the big players in the cancer establishment also have boards of directors with representatives from the pharmaceutical, chemical and energy industries. It is thus almost impossible to separate the people who might be responsible for the perpetuation of this disease from those who are responsible for trying to find a way to cure or, even better, to prevent it.

There is a really pertinent section of the film which highlights the work of our colleagues Jim Brophy and Margaret Keith in Canada on occupational exposure to carcinogens and EDCs implicated in breast cancer causation. So the film is of interest to Trade Union members in terms of occupational exposures and those who want to campaign for an equal emphasis on prevention as well as treatment and care for those living with breast cancer.

Film Trailer Here:

Pink Ribbons Inc. Directed by Lea Pool, for National Film Board of Canada (97 mins)

Post-Film Discussion

There has been a longstanding effort on the part of campaigners, activists, trade unionists, and researchers alike to draw attention to the much marginalised concerns about the lack of funding for and attention to environmental and occupational links to breast cancer. We are delighted to invite and have some of the most experienced and committed individuals in this area join us for the post film discussion which will explore both the issues raised in the film and with specific reference to the UK landscape. TPFF’s Deborah Burton will chair , who, prior to her work with TPFF, spent many years campaigning on environmental links to breast cancer.

Helen Lynn

Helen Lynn has campaigned on cancer prevention since 1995, initially at the Women’s Environmental Network with Putting Breast Cancer on the Map and the No More Breast Cancer campaign. She is currently a freelance campaigner/researcher at Wildcard Research and facilitates the Alliance for Cancer Prevention in the UK. Helen also reviewed the film here.

Margo Marrone

Margo Marrone, is a pharmacist and homeopath who first became aware of chemical overload on the human body during the 1990’s. She opened her first Organic Pharmacy store in London in 2002, to address this ever growing concern about chemicals in cosmetics and built the business on the principles of honesty, integrity, purity, quality and green environmental thinking. Ten years on it is still a family run business and one that has supported campaigns addressing environmental links to breast cancer.

VENUE & BOOKING
We are screening the film on board the Tamesis Boat – a converted 1930s Dutch Barge.

Tuesday 13th November 6.30 for 7pm Tamesis Dock, Albert Embankment, London.

(between Vauxhall and Lambeth Bridge (nearest) –Fire Station and Park Plaza Hotel on opposite side of the road)

Start: 6.30 for 7pm. Food (snacks and meals) and drinks available – more info here http://www.tdock.co.uk/

Film poster Poster for Pink Ribbons Inc showing

Booking

£4 on the Door

PLEASE EMAIL <info@allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk> to let us know you are coming as we need to know numbers.

Joint NGO letter to Commissioners on EDCs

2nd October 2012

Dear Commissioner Dalli,

Dear Commissioner Potočnik,

We, the undersigned environment, occupation/workers, and health organisations are writing to you today as we would like to request clarification on yesterday’s news that EFSA has been asked by the European Commission to prepare a scientific opinion on the human health and environmental risks of endocrine disruptors.

For at least one year, there has been an ongoing process under the auspices of DG Environment, , on the science and policy issues relating to the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disruptors and the requirements of the Pesticides and Biocides legislation to establish the criteria for the identification and assessment of Endocrine Disruptors. The process includes DG Health and Consumers (Sanco), DG Employment, Joint Research Centre, European Chemicals Agency, Member States, industry and public interest stakeholders, and involves the Ad Hoc meetings and the ED Expert Advisory Sub Group meetings.

In particular, the Expert Advisor Sub Group meeting has been providing advice to and is developing a report for the Commission and for the Member States Ad hoc Group on scientific aspects related to identification of endocrine disruptors. In these groups, discussions include the work of the OECD, the 2012 report on the “State of the Art Assessment of Endocrine Disruptors”, and other relevant scientific materials. These meetings have taken up considerable resources and time from all participants. Although the news article on the EFSA website and mandate text indicate it derives from the ‘European Commission’, we find it hard to believe that the Commission as a whole would initiate an entirely new process, which will lead to significant duplication and overlap with the existing process already underway under the auspices of DG Environment. Moreover, the letter makes clear that the mandate comes specifically from DG Sanco.

We would like to receive clarification as to how this new scientific opinion will fit into the existing process; and in particular, how it will be compatible with the DG Environment lead in the Commission services on producing criteria for Endocrine Disruptors. The Biocides law is the legislation requiring the earliest adoption of delegated acts specifying criteria for the determination of endocrine disrupting properties and for Biocides, DG Environment leads the process. Under the Experts Sub Group mentioned above, DG Environment has already set up a group with expertise on EDCs, comprised of representatives of Member States and stakeholders in order provide expert advice on the criteria. It now seems counter-productive to involve additional groups of scientific experts, particularly as not all have the requisite expertise in the issue of endocrine disruption.

We would also like to receive clarification on how this new scientific opinion will be compatible with the need for horizontal criteria that crosses all relevant legislation including that of for food & feed, industrial chemicals, cosmetics, water, and other areas. This need has been clearly expressed in the 4th report on the implementation of the Community Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors (August 2011), particularly given the special nature of endocrine disrupting chemicals having additive effects.

Controversies have already been provoked by previous EFSA work on Endocrine Disruptors, and their omission of new scientific insights on endocrine disruption. There are ongoing disputes about the validity of EFSA opinions (see Vandenberg et al, Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2010 and other publications), as well as ongoing disagreement views between EFSA and different Member States, for example see the French ANSES on Bisphenol A in food containers “Effets sanitaires du bisphénol A” September 2011). In addition there is significant public concern about the reliability and impartiality of its work on EDCs (as evinced by the recent decision of MEPs to withhold EFSA’s budget).

We would like explanations on how the Commission intends to proceed further with these now overlapping processes, and how Member State and other stakeholder expertise will be involved in the future. Given that the European Parliament is in the midst of its Report on Endocrine Disruptors, it would also be useful to understand how the Commission sees the Parliament’s report in relation to this EFSA undertaking. The credibility and motivation of the Commission Services that initiated this mandate, if not the Commission as a whole, let alone that of EFSA itself, is brought into question by what appears to be a significant duplication and overlap of resources and separate processes. In these times of austerity budgets and EU financial crises, European citizens expect the European Commission to ensure the most efficient and effective use of its resources, as well as those of its participating Member State representatives and experts. Looking at the mandate, we are not sure that this new process serves these ends, and think that this new development merits the fullest explanation.

Finally, we would like to point out that we think it is of the utmost importance that the process on the EDCs Strategy and the EDCs Criteria continues to be transparent and involves all stakeholders. The definition of and criteria for EDCs will mean that some substances will become recognized as EDCs and therefore possibly subject to controls, and others not. Therefore we believe public scrutiny is necessary with respect to the scientific formulations of criteria and definitions, and the scientific opinions, definitions and criteria are part of a wider process which require ongoing democratic participation and decision-making, and embody the precautionary principle.

In view of the public interest in this matter, we intend to make the contents of this letter more widely available. We are requesting a meeting with you about this as a matter of urgency.

Bearing in mind the importance of the issue, we look forward to a swift response.

 

Yours sincerely,

Lisette van Vliet,

Senior Policy Advisor, Chemicals and Chronic Disease Prevention

Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)

28 Boulevard Charlemagne

B-1000 Brussels, BELGIUM

Tel:             +32 2 234 3645       (direct)

 

on behalf of

  • Alliance for Cancer Prevention
  • Breast Cancer UK
  • BUND /Friends of the Earth Germany
  • Cancer Prevention and Education Society
  • Center for International Environmental Law
  • CHEM Trust
  • Client Earth
  • Danish Ecological Council
  • European Environment Bureau
  • Health Care Without Harm Europe
  • International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec)
  • Intituto Sindical de Trabajo, Ambiente y Salud (ISTAS)
  • Générations Futures
  • Greenpeace
  • Organización para la Defensa de la Salud (Health Defense Organisation), Vivo Sano Foundation
  • Pesticide Action Network Europe
  • Réseau Environnement Santé
  • Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
  • Women in Europe for a Common Future

joint_ngo_letter_to_commissioners_on_efsa_edc_mandate

Denmark prohibits endocrine disruptors

In 2009 the Danish Consumer Council (DCC) started a campaign to ban endocrine disrupting chemicals in consumer products. So far Denmark has banned Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and food packaging material  for children, 2 parabens (Butyl and Propyl) from cosmetic products for children under 3, and now, four phthalates in consumer products.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals/oestrogen mimics/xenoestrogens can be found in a wide rang of consumer products and can interfere/disrupt or prevent any aspect of our hormones action.  And as such have no place in consumer products, in our workplaces or our environment.

The Danish Government , urged by their consumer council, is taking prevention and precautionary action to ban phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals from consumer products  “The DCC has for a long time called for the use of the precautionary principle – the benefit of the doubt should protect the consumers and their health, not the chemical industry. Research on EDCs from the Danish Centre on Endocrine Disrupters clearly shows the need for caution“. Claus Jørgensen, Senior Policy Advisor at the Danish Consumer Council.

The ban covers “the import and sale of products for indoor use which contain one or more of the four phthalates and products which contain these substances in parts of the products which may come into contact with skin or mucous membranes” and does not not include phthalates found in medical devices, toys, cosmetics, and food packaging.

Does this mean that industry will have to manufacture specific products for sale in Denmark, or can we save them the trouble and push for a ban on all EDC’s in consumer products across the EU?

Newsletter from the Danish Consumer Council