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Pesticides must be checked for harmful chemicals: MEPs

Pesticides must be checked for harmful chemicals: MEPs

Photo © Valcho - Fotolia7

(BRUSSELS) - MEPs at a public hearing Wednesday discussed the EU risk assessment of the herbicide glyphosate, demanding that pesticides be checked for endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The full Parliament last week blocked a European Commission proposal that would have exempted some chemicals in pesticides from being identified as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) even though some were actually designed to attack an organism's endocrine system. "The criteria proposed by the Commission cannot be called science-based," said Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland.

The European Court of Justice ruled in 2015 that the Commission breached EU law by not establishing scientific criteria for the identification of EDCs in time, namely by the end of 2013. The Commission argued that the impact assessment for regulating EDCs, including its economic aspects, should be completed first. The European Court of Justice said that scientific and other aspects pertaining to EDCs should be kept separate.

"We know that the draft criteria were ready many years ago, but then were pulled back again after pressure from the industry," said Guteland, adding that the delay was completely inacceptable.

An endocrine system is the collection of glands that secrete hormones. Bodily functions, from metabolism and growth to reproduction, sleep and mood, depend the endocrine system working normally.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. They mimic hormones or block receptors for hormones in cells, throwing the endocrine system into disarray.

Health problems that may be linked to EDCs include hormone-related cancers, obesity, diabetes, IQ loss and impaired motor skills, learning disabilities, infertility.

EDCs can be found in clothing, furniture, beverage containers, food wraps, electronics, toys and even baby bottles. To kill and control pests, many pesticides and herbicides contain substances that target endocrine systems of organisms.

Glyphosate is the world's most widely and heavily applied weed-killer, however there are concerns about how it might affect people's health. This is why MEPs insisted in April 2016 that the Commission limits the renewal of marketing approval to just seven years. The Commission proposed to renew the approval for ten years, but this was not supported by the majority of EU countries.

The current marketing approval of glyphosate in the EU expires on 15 December 2017.

A European citizens' initiative collected 1.3 million signatures to ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides.

Further information, European Parliament

EUR 157 billion every year: the health costs of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the EU

Monsanto papers and glyphosate: lessons for the EU

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