Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, has welcomed the judgement by the European Court of Justice (16th December) on the EU Commission’s failure to set scientific criteria to determine whether substances have endocrine disrupting properties.
The ECJ found that the Commission was in breach of EU law because it did not act – by the end of 2013 – upon legislation agreed between the European Parliament and Member State governments, over a number of years, dating back to 2009.
Chemicals such as pesticides can contain endocrine disrupting components that are harmful for human health and the environment.
The World Health Organisation and other UN bodies have called these substances, which interfere with tissue and organ growth and functions, “a global threat”.
On foot of the ECJ’s findings, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee and a longstanding critic of the EU executive’s inaction on endocrine disruptors, will write to Commission President Juncker, together with like-minded colleagues.
Ms. Childers said:
“Since I started serving as an MEP, a number of us have been constantly pressuring the Commission to move forward with duly implementing EU law, but none of the prescribed deadlines have been met.
“Because these substances are hazardous and act at such low levels of exposure, we can’t simply carry out the usual risk assessments to determine safe levels of exposure, and we know that from independent scientists, who say that would be arbitrary and without any basis on science.
“We should treat EDCs as ‘non-threshold’ chemicals, just as we do with other carcinogenic and toxic substances.
“The Commission had a proposal ready for publication back in mid-2013, based on independent expert input, so that we’d at least have a proposal for scientific criteria to act on EDCs within the December 2013 deadline set by the pesticides regulation in 2009.
“Instead, the chemical lobby went on a scaremongering rampage about costs and risks to crop yields that they brought all the way up to the then Secretary-General Catherine Day, based on impact assessments from the UK and Teagasc, the Irish agriculture and food development authority.
“She imposed the preparation of an ongoing impact assessment in the Commission, effectively kicking the issue to touch.
“This sad legacy of my fellow-countrywoman should now be halted and killed. President Juncker should acknowledge this dangerous mistake and bring the 2013 proposal forward.
“His homework has been done for him. All he has to do now is say the right thing.”
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone) system in mammals. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.