18th Sep 2019

American NGOs back Europe's chemical policy

Over sixty US pressure groups as well as 10,000 individuals have backed controversial EU proposals to make companies responsible for proving the safety of the chemicals they produce or use.

In a joint declaration of independence sent to the European Commission and to the US President George W Bush, signatories urged the US to follow "Europe's lead" and bring US policy on chemicals "into the 21st century".

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At the beginning of May the Commission unveiled a radical reworking of the Union's chemicals policy proposing the introduction of an integrated system of registration, evaluation, and authorisation with companies, rather than public agencies, having to prove the safety of chemicals used, produced or exported.

Only 3% of chemicals produced in the EU each year are well known according to the Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström.

Washington has backed US exporters in their vehement opposition to the so-called REACH proposal. Firms such as Exxon Mobil, Bayer and Basf claim that registration and testing programmes alone would cost US companies 400 million US dollars.

US environmental groups, Trade Unions and health NGOs have applauded the Commission's proposal as one that supports "healthier families, safer jobs, and cleaner communities".

The Commissions eight week period of public consultation comes to an end on 10 July when it will begin to finalise its proposal.

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