The long awaited and highly contested proposed criteria on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were announced on the 16th June by Commissioner Andriukaitis from the European Commission. But the long wait did not result in the much hoped for rigorous criteria which would protect human and animal health and our environment.
The proposed criteria have been called ‘shameful’, ‘astounding’ and woefully inadequate by the many scientists and organisations who have lobbied for binding control of EDCs and proper legislation for the last 3 years while the process was stalled by industry lobbying and the resulting internal EU processes.
In a series of articles for the Corporate Europe Observatory the acclaimed French Journalist Stéphane Horel outlined the massive industry lobby that sought to derail, delay and weaken the EU EDC regulations.
The disappointment and frustration at the failure of the proposed criteria to offer any protection against EDCs is palpable as they demand an impossibly high burden of proof to link EDCs to adverse human health effects, which means that few EDCs will be banned as a result. Shockingly the core underpinning principle of all EU chemicals legislation, the precautionary principle, has been totally omitted.
In over 1,300 studies EDC exposure have been linked with cancer, infertility, reproductive disorders for both male and female, cancer, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, neurological and behavioural defects, and learning difficulties.
The EDC Free Europe Coalition, of which the Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a founding member, strongly condemned the Commission and called on member states to: “insist on major changes because these proposals will do nothing to protect human health and environment from further harm but instead allows the pesticide and chemical industries to continue using harmful substances to which we are all daily exposed”.
We also demanded that the criteria must include the World Health Organisation definition of potential endocrine disruptors and the modification to the pesticides derogation on negligible exposure must be eliminated. See our Press Release for details.
In a letter sent today by the EDC Free Europe Coalition calling on Environment Ministers to rectify the problematic issues to do with the criteria proposal, concern was once again expressed about the inability of the proposed criteria to protect wildlife and to address the urgent public health threat from EDCs.
A recent research paper estimated the cost to be 157 Billion euros to the EU each year from such exposures. Leonard Trasande the main author of the paper said of the proposed criteria that they were based on antiquated science and approaches to the causation of disease, and the costs in terms of health, disability and lives lost will reverberate long after this unfortunate decision.
The World Health Organisation cautiously acknowledged in its assessment of EDCs that there is: “sufficient evidence to conclude that adverse endocrine-mediated effects have occurred in some wildlife species, even if evidence of such adverse effects on human health is weak”.
But waiting for 100% evidence on harm to human health places the burden on our health and not on industry to show harmful and often fatal effects from EDCs. Chemtrust called this approach cynical and the proposal unacceptable unless it is radically improved by the Member states. If not then the European Parliament should veto it.
The Endocrine Society also questioned the high level of evidence required by the Commission stating that the EU Commission: “set the bar so high that it will be challenging for chemicals to meet the standard, even when there is scientific evidence of harm. To protect pregnant women, children and future generations from chemicals of concern, we need science-based regulation that reflects the growing body of evidence documenting this public health threat.”
So the type of evidence the Commission is aiming for could take decades to agree, as its very rare in sceince to find 100% certainty. But maybe the delay is intentional as there is speculation that weakening the EU chemicals regulation paves the way for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. TTIP seeks to undermine the existing EU legislation on chemicals which offers better protection than that afforded to US citizens.
The Alliance believes that the EU Commission will be responsible for the diseases and deaths of millions by adopting these abysmally inadequate criteria. We will not see any ceasation in the epidemic of cancers related to exposures to endocrine disruptors in the home, workplace or in the wider environment. We are bitterly disappointed that the long hoped for strongly worded criteria which could finally eliminate exposure to these harmful chemicals has not been forthcoming. It is unbelievable that the EU Commission would bow to industry lobbying when our health is at stake. The costs to health care budgets will be unsustainable andmore importantly the needless suffering and pain endured by those harmed by exposure to EDCs in the workplace, home or wider environment is totally unacceptable given what we know about EDCs.
We are disappointed and concerned that the UK government has been revealed as one of the countries seeking to water down the EDC criteria from the onset. We feel there is little point in lobbying our government given their flagrant disregard for their citizen’s health and their preoccupation at getting rid of what they and industry consider ‘red tape’.
Please support our work with the EDC Free Europe Coalition and join with us in calling for proper regulation to eliminate these harmful EDCs from our homes, workplaces, wildlife and the wider environment.
A link to the EU documents – http://ec.europa.eu/health/endocrine_disruptors/policy/index_en.htm
And direct link to the Communication http://ec.europa.eu/health/endocrine_disruptors/docs/com_2016_350_en.pdf